Carbon tax will lead to more Edmonton jobs, says mayor

Edmonton mayor Don Iveson thinks the Alberta government’s plan for a carbon tax will help create more jobs for the city.

New tax 'a wellspring for innovation and for investment,' Don Iveson says

Edmonton mayor Don Iveson said he's a big booster of the carbon levy. (CBC.CA)

Edmonton mayor Don Iveson thinks the Alberta government's plan for a carbon tax will help create more jobs for the city.

In a year-end interview with CBC News, the mayor said the new tax "is a wellspring for innovation and for investment."

"Suncor, for example, has been forecasting the potential for carbon pricing for years and years and years, and there's a whole bunch of things that they'll do in their operation now to reduce their energy requirements and reduce their environmental footprint that all of a sudden become economic," Iveson said.

"When they do it, they'll create a whole bunch of jobs in the process and the innovation that's behind it may be exportable to other jurisdictions.

"So if [Edmonton-based construction firm] PCL can build it for Suncor, then as other jurisdictions move toward pollution pricing and move towards de-carbonizing even the energy economy, there will be opportunities for us."

Iveson favours 'pollution pricing'

Iveson said he understands some of the negative reaction to the carbon levy, which is scheduled to come into effect Jan. 1 on heating and transportation fuels including gasoline, diesel, natural gas and propane.

"I see it as opportunity but I completely understand how it's hard to see that when the economy is in the situation that it's in, which in my view has more to do with the commodity price than it does with carbon pricing," the mayor said.

Iveson added that he's been in favour of pollution pricing and the carbon levy for years.

"I've been an advocate about that for seven, eight years since I did my own research on it.

"If you don't put a price on pollution, you're not going to create an incentive structure for things to change and it's a better method than regulatory oversight."

Iveson pointed to the example of the city's plan to purchase more electric buses for Edmonton Transit.

"Electric buses are a couple of years away from being economic without carbon pricing," he said.

"With carbon pricing, they're dollar to dollar competitive today and that's only going to get better … as the price of electric bus technology comes down.

"The economics just get better. There's no scenario where electric buses go back to being more expensive than diesel buses over a life cycle."

Iveson said he understands his support of the carbon levy may be controversial.

"It would be really easy to step back from that and say I know that's a politically controversial fight now," he said.

He said people have to stand up for what they believe in and not worry about the controversy.

Dollars and cents of new tax

On gasoline, the carbon tax will be 4.49 cents per litre, increasing by another 2.25 cents per litre on Jan. 1, 2018.

For diesel, it will be 5.35 cents per litre as of Jan. 1, increasing by another 2.68 cents per litre on Jan. 1, 2018.

The levy on natural gas, the most common home heating fuel in Alberta, will be $1.01 per gigajoule, increasing by another 51 cents per GJ on Jan. 1, 2018. The carbon levy will also apply to propane.

Low-income and middle-income families will qualify for rebates under the province's climate leadership plan.