Edi­tor’s Note

Al­berta’s ag­gres­sive cli­mate plan clashes with Trump’s cli­mate-change de­nial

Alberta Venture - - Contents - Michael Gan­ley Edi­tor mgan­[email protected]­ber­taven­ture.com @Michael­b­gan­ley

Every­one is still di­gest­ing

the news that Don­ald Trump is the U.S. pres­i­dent-elect and what that means for ev­ery­thing from im­mi­gra­tion to war in the Mid­dle East to a woman’s right to choose. Let me fo­cus on the pri­vate sec­tor in Al­berta.

Trump looks cer­tain to ap­prove the Key­stone XL pipe­line and to gen­er­ally be a pro­po­nent of en­ergy in­fra­struc­ture. That will open mar­kets to Al­berta’s pri­mary prod­ucts and over­all get pro­duc­ers a bet­ter price, but let’s not over­state its im­port: Key­stone is one pipe­line of many and the in­dus­try has al­ways found, and will con­tinue to find, ways to get prod­uct to the best pos­si­ble mar­kets. Its im­por­tance is also less­ened be­cause of Canada’s de­ci­sions on En­bridge’s Line 3 and Kin­der Mor­gan’s Trans Moun­tain Ex­pan­sion, and an op­po­site ef­fect will come from Trump’s plans to open new land in the U.S. to drilling, in­creas­ing com­pe­ti­tion for Al­ber­tan prod­uct. So no clear win­ner there.

Trump has just about killed the Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship, a move that Al­ber­tan busi­nesses could take ad­van­tage of. If the U.S. spurns in­ter­na­tional mar­kets, as it is poised to do in many ways, there will be a vac­uum to fill. He has also threat­ened to rip up NAFTA, al­though since the elec­tion has toned the rhetoric down to a rene­go­ti­a­tion and, in any event, the deal has al­ways been of greater im­port to On­tario’s man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor than to the en­ergy in­dus­try.

The real tough is­sue for Al­berta – and for the coun­try – will be the cli­mate change file. Trump has re­peat­edly called global warm­ing a hoax and is try­ing to quit the Paris cli­mate agree­ment. He is fac­ing – as he will with a great many of his pol­icy choices – vig­or­ous op­po­si­tion, but it’s safe to say he won’t be work­ing to re­duce car­bon emis­sions in the U.S. Al­berta, on the other hand, is in the midst of im­ple­ment­ing an ag­gres­sive cli­mate plan which in­cludes a new econ­omy-wide car­bon tax of $20 per tonne, which will rise to $30 per tonne next year. The fed­eral gov­ern­ment has man­aged to get ev­ery prov­ince ex­cept Saskatchewan on board with sim­i­lar com­mit­ments. Th­ese moves will im­pose costs on economies and busi­nesses that will not be felt by Amer­i­can com­peti­tors. French Pres­i­dent Nicolas Sarkozy has pro­posed that Europe im­pose a car­bon tax on Amer­i­can im­ports if Trump pulls out of the Paris ac­cord, but you can be sure that would in­vite a trade war which would be in the best in­ter­est of no­body. Squar­ing this cir­cle will be one of the great chal­lenges of the com­ing years.

But to con­sider only the eco­nomic ef­fects of Trump’s as­cen­sion is to ab­di­cate re­spon­si­bil­ity. Trump has taken civil dis­course to new lows and won with a plat­form de­void of fact or depth. He seems poised to run both his po­lit­i­cal and busi­ness empires as if there can be no con­flicts of in­ter­est. And we now see his race-bait­ing and bul­ly­ing man­ner more and more in Canada. We have a crowd in front of the Al­berta leg­is­la­ture chant­ing “lock her up” and fed­eral Con­ser­va­tive lead­er­ship can­di­date Kel­lie Leitch has en­tered the murky world of value-test­ing. We can deal with Trump when it comes to trade and eco­nomic pol­icy, but must re­sist the de­bas­ing of the pub­lic square that is such a pro­found part of his legacy.

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