Alberta's government says it will oppose any federal efforts to bring in a carbon tax after an advisory panel commissioned by Ottawa released its report Monday.
The panel was struck to study ways Canada can make a 60 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
The National Round Table on Environment and the Economy recommended placing a price on carbon dioxide emissions and developing a carbon tax or trading system to target emitters.
"There are some very valid observations in this report," said Alberta Environment Minister Rob Renner about placing a dollar value on a tonne of carbon dioxide, but he disagreed with the idea of a carbon tax.
"From Alberta's perspective, we have been and continue to be opposed to any kind of implementation of an across-the-board tax."
Alberta already puts a price of $15 a tonne on carbon emissions beyond a set target.
In July, the province ordered companies that emit more than 100,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas annually, such as oilsands producers and coal-burning plants, to cut their emission intensity by 12 per cent.
That means the plants will have to produce 12 per cent less emissions for each unit of output. The reduction is measured against the average intensity reported by companies in 2003 to 2005.
They have until March 31 to either cut emissions, pay $15 a tonne into a technology fund that invests in projects to reduce emissions, or buy an offset in Alberta to apply against their emissions total.
Renner said he'd prefer to see Ottawa follow that type of plan, rather than carbon taxes where money would be collected for general revenues.
"What we have implemented here in Alberta and we see as being consistent with what the federal government has been proposing is putting in a planned process that will establish a price for carbon and … over a reasonable period of time reduce the carbon emissions for large industrial emitters and eventually see us with real reductions in CO2."
Industry says carbon tax should be invested in technology
The energy sector agrees with Renner's position.
"We''ll pay for our share of our emissions, but we're not going to pay for other sectors or other parts of the country's emissions," said Pierre Alvarez, president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.
Wishart Robson, Nexen's climate change adviser, says the money from any carbon tax should only be used to help cut emissions: "To invest in technology, to invest in better transit systems, to make the other kinds of structural changes that are necessary to deal with a lower-carbon future."
But a carbon tax appears to have little support in Ottawa. Both Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion have rejected the idea in the past, saying it will damage the economy.