As It Happens

Would it be 'crazy' for Canada to regulate oil industry emissions given low oil prices?

As international experts meet at the climate change conference in Lima, Peru, Prime Minister Stephen Harper says his government will not introduce new regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the oil and gas industry at this time....

As international experts meet at the climate change conference in Lima, Peru, Prime Minister Stephen Harper says his government will not introduce new regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the oil and gas industry at this time.

On Tuesday in in Question Period, NDP environment critic Megan Leslie accused the Prime Minister of breaking his promise to reduce emissions, and said his failure to do so gives Canada a black eye internationally. But the Prime Minister responded by saying it would be a "crazy economic policy" to introduce regulations given current oil and gas prices.

"The price of the barrel of oil if anything makes it more feasible that Canada will meet the targets, potentially for the wrong reasons," Andrew Leach, Enbridge Professor of Energy Policy at the University of Alberta School of Business, tells As It Happens host Carol Off.

Lower oil prices and corresponding reduction of oil sands development would be the reason Canada's Copenhagen Accord emission targets could be met -- at an economic cost, of course.

However, Leach agrees with the Prime Minister in that If Canada were to impose regulations to meet its emission targets today, it would be a significant economic impact.

"We'd certainly have the most stringent carbon policy in the world. We'd be an order of magnitude more stringent than most of our trading partners," he says. "I think you're talking about major economic policy. If you were doing that, that's GST, Free Trade, NAFTA-style scale national policy. So I think we'd have to have a very strong national debate about that."

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