07 October 2015

Albertans support stronger climate change policies

A recent survey by EKOS Research Associates commissioned by the Pembina Institute reveals that Albertans' attitudes about energy and climate change are more progressive than many think.

For example, 50 per cent of Albertans support a carbon tax that applies to all polluters, both companies and individuals (38 per cent oppose the tax). Support rises when the revenue is used for projects that help reduce emissions, such as public transit, energy-efficient buildings and reducing emissions from the oil and gas industry.

Two-thirds of Albertans believe the government should prioritize diversifying the economy over improving the efficiency of the oil and gas industry.

A solid majority (70 per cent) support investment in renewables to reduce coal use, and 86 per cent believe the province should do more to support the development of clean energy.

As for further development of the tar sands, Albertans are split: 48 per cent think production should stay the same or be reduced while 43 per cent believe production should be larger. Seventy per cent believe the province should be stricter in enforcing tar sands environmental rules and safeguards.

Support for tar sands production remains higher than a realistic view of climate change can tolerate, nonetheless overall the attitudes are encouraging. There is grist here for the new government's mill for aggressive environmental action.


  1. Hi, Bill. There's no getting around the fact that, if we're to have the slightest hope of reaching the 2C target, three-quarters to four-fifths of known fossil fuel reserves will have to be left in the ground, unburned. With known reserves of conventional oil and natural gas more than ample to satisfy that 'carbon diet' there is no justification for continuing to extract unconventional, high-cost, high-carbon fossil reserves.

    Coal is low-cost, high-carbon. Bitumen is high-cost, high-carbon. Both simply have to be abandoned, consigned to nature's sequestration.

    Carbon taxes are all well and good for consumers but something a good deal stiffer is required for high-carbon fossil fuels. The current government/industry Ponzi scheme has been disastrous for Alberta and perilous for the world. If natural capital, itself a public asset, was to be fairly priced the Tar Sands would be out of business. Price the water the producers consume at fair market values. Price the tailing pond discharge at their actual cost. Price the emissions spewed into the atmosphere at their actual cost, not just here but around the world and measure that cost to the impact these emissions have on the poorest and most vulnerable in distant lands where people are being displaced, dislocated, even dying of climate change impacts. They'll be wanting compensation in due course, you know and we'll have no good arguments to deny them. Do you think these foreign energy giants are going to gladly chip in when the hat gets passed? When did they last do that sort of thing?

  2. Mound, considering that climate change is one of the contributing factors to the Syrian civil war, the refugees may already be telling us that the vulnerable are demanding compensation.