Category Archives: agriculture

SK Unemployment Rate Drops For Second Consecutive Month

 

Unemployment Rate Drops in December

Released on January 6, 2017

Saskatchewan recorded a 6.5 per cent unemployment rate (seasonally adjusted) in December 2016, down from 6.8 per cent in November 2016.   There were 563,000 people employed in the province in December 2016.  Year-over-year, there was a decrease of 7,900 jobs.

Over the same period, Alberta recorded a loss of 17,300 jobs, while Newfoundland and Labrador recorded a loss of 5,700 jobs.  All three oil producing provinces recorded the highest job losses in Canada.

“We are pleased to see the unemployment rate drop for the second consecutive month,” Economy Minister Jeremy Harrison said.  “It should be noted that the largest job losses recorded in 2016 were in the three oil producing provinces.  This clearly indicates now is not the time for a job-killing carbon tax.”

Saskatchewan had the fourth lowest unemployment rate in the country, below the national average of 6.9 per cent (seasonally adjusted).

Other December 2016 highlights include:

  • Major year-over-year gains were reported for trade up 5,200; professional, scientific and technical services up 4,500; public administration up 2,300.
  • Off-reserve Aboriginal employment was up 4,600 for six consecutive months of year-over-year increases.
  • Saskatchewan’s youth unemployment rate was 10.3 per cent (seasonally adjusted), second lowest among the provinces, behind British Columbia (8.5 per cent), and below the national rate of 12.6 per cent.
  • Aboriginal youth employment was up 1,500 for eight consecutive months of year-over-year increases.

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For more information, contact:

Deb Young
Economy
Regina
Phone: 306-787-4765
Email: deb.young@gov.sk.ca

 

 

Wall on equalization payouts for 2017-18

From Brad Walls Facebook Page

January 6th, 2017

9:00 am’ish

https://www.facebook.com/PremierBradWall

Hey Saskatchewan – here is a reminder of how much you will contribute to Canada in the coming year.

In 2017, $18 billion in equalization payments will be provided to six provinces while four provinces, including Saskatchewan, receive nothing. That’s because, for the 10th year in a row, Saskatchewan is a ‘have’ province.

So Saskatchewan will contribute $580 million this year to equalization from our 1.16 million residents (about $500 from every man, woman and child). Over the past decade, that’s more than $5 billion from our province’s taxpayers while receiving $0 equalization dollars.

Just thought you should know, you are definitely doing your part.

sk-equalisation-2017-img

Complete item:

sk-equalisation-2017

 

 

Carbon tax could compromise Canadian food sovereignty

Carbon tax could compromise Canadian food sovereignty

SYLVAIN CHARLEBOIS

Special to The Globe and Mail

Published Monday, Dec. 19, 2016 5:00AM EST

Last updated Sunday, Dec. 18, 2016 5:10PM EST

Sylvain Charlebois is dean of the faculty of management and professor in food distribution and policy at Dalhousie University.

 

From farm to fork, our food is responsible for around 25 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. This is much higher than what most people would think. Whether we realize it or not, every decision a consumer makes when picking what to eat has an impact on our environment, and many want to do something about it. The federal government recently mandated a tax on carbon emissions. A mandatory tax of $10 a tonne is set to start in 2018 and provinces are expected to produce their own plans. While energy prices are expected to rise, the impact on food costs has garnered scant attention.

Grocers will likely continue to seek affordable foods for their customer. The concern, of course, is that Canadian goods with a carbon tax may become much less attractive from a price perspective. This would encourage grocers to import more foods, regardless of the dollar’s value, a trend we have seen over the past few years. While food prices will likely increase over the next few years, carbon taxes will hardly be to blame since importers have choices about where they buy their products. A tax on carbon won’t make more Canadians food insecure – the issue is more about food sovereignty for certain sectors.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s announcement about a carbon tax occurred weeks before a new U.S. administration. With Donald Trump ascending to the White House, the timing of the carbon deal is worrisome for the Canadian agriculture and food sector. Under Mr. Trump, the United States is likely to remain idle on policies to mitigate climate change. This would make our agrifood systems much less competitive. Coupled with a possible reduction in U.S.-based corporate tax rates, Canada could be isolated as the only green-focused economy in North America. To make matters worse, our food economy remains vulnerable to currency fluctuations. When the loonie tanks, food prices go up. However, we have seen many new greenhouse projects emerge in recent years, particularly in Ontario, which could potentially make the Canadian market much less susceptible to abrupt retail price fluctuations. A price on carbon may stop these initiatives from coming to fruition. Working together to protect the environment only makes sense, but we need to move forward with great caution. To give market currency to carbon is a necessary step toward a more sustainable food system, but our policies must capture our global reality. Due to the aggressive campaign on carbon here, firms could relocate to lower-cost countries. Canada has seen more than 150 firms close or relocate since 2008 in Canada, affecting almost 30,000 jobs.

A carbon tax will clearly discriminate against certain agricultural sectors. As a recent EU study noted, prices under a carbon tax would increase between 15 per cent and 40 per cent at farm gate for the most greenhouse gas-intensive foods such as beef, lamb and dairy products. Thus, it would be easy to speculate that consumption could fall by as much as 15 per cent for some products. The result would affect major sectors in our agricultural economy. According to the same study though, health gains could be made since some of these products are deemed unhealthy if not consumed in moderation. A win-win perhaps, but consumers should be given the opportunity to adapt, as consumption habits are often difficult to break.

Unlike the cap-and-trade solution, for example, a carbon tax provides certainty on how carbon is priced, but the amount of emissions reductions is always difficult to predict. And who knows what could happen to tax revenues given funds allocated to Ottawa’s budgetary black hole. However, it is the most effective instrument the federal government can use to entice provinces to act.

Provinces where agriculture is a significant part of the economy could opt for a cap-and-trade scheme that would guarantee emission reduction and reward good stewardship. For example, with no-till farming, precision agriculture and better equipment, Saskatchewan annually sequesters about nine million tonnes of carbon. At $50 a tonne, which is the federal carbon price set for 2022, that sequestered carbon would have a value of more than $450-million. Beyond just taxing carbon, a hybrid approach could be substantially more powerful.

In the grand scheme of things, it boils down to one thing: Our current food consumption trends in Canada are, for the most part, environmentally unsustainable. The price we pay at the grocery store does not reflect the true cost of food production and distribution. We all know that. So doing nothing is no longer an option and most would recognize that the writing is on the wall. However, given that we live in a borderless world, Ottawa should also recognize that not everyone on earth wants to save the planet.

 

 

 

Saskatchewan reaches deal to keep using coal-fired plants

Saskatchewan reaches deal to keep using coal-fired plants

REGINA — The Canadian Press

Published Monday, Nov. 28, 2016 11:38AM EST

Last updated Monday, Nov. 28, 2016 1:08PM EST

 

Saskatchewan says it has reached a deal with Ottawa that will allow the province to keep using coal-fired power plants in what it calls “a responsible manner” beyond 2030.

The federal government announced last week that provinces will have to phase out coal entirely and replace it with lower-emitting sources by 2030 or use carbon capture and storage technology.

Saskatchewan uses carbon capture at one of its coal-fired power plants, but hasn’t made a decision about installing the technology at other plants.

The agreement will allow the province to meet federal emission requirements over time on an electricity system-wide basis, as opposed to regulation of every coal-fired plant.

The deal also acknowledges Saskatchewan’s work in advancing carbon capture and storage and the province’s move to 50 per cent renewable energy generation by 2030.

Almost 50 per cent of the electricity generated in the province uses coal as a fuel source, but coal-fired units are among the largest sources of air pollution in the country.

 

 

 

Conference Board of Canada predicts moderate growth for Saskatoon and Regina in ’17

  • 15 Nov 2016
  • Saskatoon StarPhoenix
  • BRUCE JOHNSTONE

‘Worst appears over’ for Saskatoon economy

Conference Board of Canada predicts moderate growth for city, Regina in ’17

Ongoing weakness in oil, potash, and agricultural markets will limit Regina’s economic growth to 1.3 per cent this year, while construction and services strength will offset the effects of weak resource prices, helping Saskatoon’s GDP grow by 1.7 per cent in 2016, according to the Conference Board of Canada’s latest forecast.

But the “worst appears to be over,’’ the Ottawa-based economics forecasting agency said Monday. Next year, both cities should perform better, with Regina’s economy projected to grow by 1.8 per cent and Saskatoon’s by two per cent in 2017, said the board’s metropolitan autumn outlook.

While much improved from the 0.5 per cent contraction last year, Regina’s projected GDP growth for 2016 and 2017 “pales in comparison with average growth rates exceeding four per cent during the decade to 2014, including a huge 6.6 per cent output jump in 2011,’’ the report said. “And even such modest growth prospects hinge on improvements in commodity prices, which are slow in coming.”

Accordingly, Regina’s real GDP is forecast to grow less than two per cent in both 2018 and 2019. Employment has held up surprisingly well, advancing nearly one per cent in 2015, although this gain was modest by boom-era standards. Similar job growth is on tap for 2016, but only a small advance is expected in 2017.

The unemployment rate is forecast to average 5.4 per cent in 2016, up from 4.4 per cent in 2015 and an unusually low 3.7 per cent in 2014. Next year, the rate is forecast to pull back to 5.2 per cent. “Although these expected rates are high by recent standards, they remain below those of the late 1980s and early 1990s — a signal of Regina’s general economic improvement,’’ the report said.

Ongoing net in-migration is another positive sign, the report said. Although inflows have fallen since 2012-2014, Regina should see more than 3,000 newcomers both this year and in 2017.

Output of Regina’s manufacturing sector is on track to expand 1.2 per cent this year and two per cent next year, following a 1.8 per cent dip in 2015.

Saskatoon’s projected real GDP growth of 1.7 per cent this year follows a 0.4 per cent drop in 2015, the first decline since the 2009 recession and a sharp drop from GDP hikes averaging just under six per cent in the previous five years.

Employment rose just 0.5 per cent in 2015, and jobs will be lost this year, although 2.2 per cent employment growth is on tap for 2017. Recent job weakness has shown up in a higher unemployment rate, which jumped 1.6 percentage points to 5.8 per cent in 2015 and is forecast to rise to 6.3 per cent for 2016, but forecast job growth will trim the unemployment rate to 5.6 per cent in 2017.

Weak employment conditions have slowed but not reversed net migratory inflows, which peaked at over 9,300 people in 2012. “We expect net arrivals nearer 4,000 people annually both this year and in 2017, trimming population growth to roughly two per cent,” the report said.

Saskatoon’s manufacturing output is poised to decline for a third straight year in 2016, although stronger three per cent output growth is on tap for 2017. Manufacturing employment has fallen 18 per cent in the past two years, including an 11 per cent drop last year.

 

Trump’s victory sends Trudeau’s energy, climate strategy into disarray

Trump’s victory sends Trudeau’s energy, climate strategy into disarray

SHAWN MCCARTHY

OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail

Published Wednesday, Nov. 09, 2016 3:33AM EST

Last updated Wednesday, Nov. 09, 2016 4:31AM EST

 

The stunning victory by Donald Trump in the U.S. election throws into disarray Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s goal of forging a North American energy and climate strategy.

Canada’s energy future remains deeply entwined with that of the United States, which is now virtually our only customer for exports of crude oil, natural gas and electricity, and which has under President Barack Obama played a leadership role on international climate change action.

As a result of Mr. Trump’s upset, the prospect for a continental energy policy will look very different from this past year, since the Liberals came to power. The Republican standard-bearer has dismissed concerns about climate change, pledged to slash regulations that impede the production and use of fossil fuels, and is unlikely to stand in the way of new pipelines that would bring oil-sands crude from Canada to the refinery hub in the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Mr. Trump favoured the Keystone XL pipeline that Mr. Obama turned down, and has said he will invite Calgary-based TransCanada Corp. to refile its application. However, the real estate developer said he would want a better deal for the U.S. including wanting “a piece” of the pipeline project for the U.S., though he has never suggested how that stake would be achieved.

If, as he has promised, Mr. Trump rolls back his predecessor’s climate commitments, Canada will face tough competitiveness questions as Ottawa and the provinces pursue plans to increase carbon prices in the coming years.

“With Trump, [energy policy] is a black box because he has not offered detailed plans,” said Colin Robertson, vice-president of the Ottawa-based Canadian Global Affairs Institute.

Renewable energy advocates insist that, regardless of the outcome of the presidential election, the U.S. will continue to see a surge in clean-energy investment as U.S. states pursue their own standards and policies that drive adoption of increasingly competitive wind and solar power.

But Mr. Trump would likely hurt the renewable energy sector because he would kill off Mr. Obama’s clean-power plan, which would encourage states to adopt clean power over coal-fired electricity. He will likely end a key renewable-energy tax credit when it comes up for extension in 2019, noted Divya Reddy, an analyst with Washington-based political risk firm Eurasia Group.

While the businessman diverged from Republican orthodoxy in areas such as trade and foreign affairs, he has echoed the party’s long-standing support for unfettered oil and gas development.

His chief energy adviser is Kevin Cramer, a North Dakota congressman and climate-change skeptic whom Ms. Reddy describes as “perhaps the most outspoken advocate for the U.S. oil and gas industry in Congress.”

Mr. Trump has committed to roll back regulations that hamper the industry. While he has not been specific, that may well include Obama administration plans to cut methane emissions from oil and gas sector by up 45 per cent – a joint Canada-U.S. commitment was made when Mr. Trudeau visited Washington in March.

Climate negotiators are gathering this week in Morocco for the annual United Nations summit and will have to assess how Mr. Trump’s victory will affect the Paris agreement reached a year ago.

He has threatened to walk away from the deal, which Mr. Obama ratified last month by executive order.

There are several ways in which Mr. Trump could undermine the Paris accord, which aims to limit the rise in average global temperatures to less than 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels. He can simply ignore U.S. commitments to reduce emissions, and to provide billions of dollars in aid to developing countries.

The surprise victory by Mr. Trump could force the federal and provincial governments in Canada to reconsider climate policies that will disadvantage energy producers here and drive up costs for manufacturers, said Laura Dawson, director of Canada Institute at Washington’s Wilson Center a non-partisan think tank.

“It may force Canada to backtrack on some of its initiatives that would put Canada too far out ahead as an outlier,” she said. “The Trudeau government was trying to go where the puck was going under an Obama White House but that puck might stop altogether under Trump, or it might turn into a basketball.”

 

 

 

New 30-million dollar grain terminal announced for Wilkie SK

New 30-million dollar grain terminal announced for Wilkie, Sask.

Regina, SK, Canada / 620 CKRM

Jim Smalley

November 01, 2016 03:17 pm

GrainsConnect Canada says Wilkie is the second location for the company, with a facility near Maymont nearing completion. [See New Maymont grain terminal to create 200 jobs at peak of construction]

The company is a partnership of GrainCorp of Australia and Japanese-based Zen-noh.

Jim Wickett, chair of the Western Canadian Wheat Growers, says it is good news for farmers.

He says additional competition from grain companies can lead to higher prices and expanded markets.

The facility is expected to have 35 thousand tons of grain storage and be completed in July, 2018.

 

 

 

Myths vs Facts – COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT GLOBAL WARMING

MYTHS / FACTS

COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT GLOBAL WARMING

From https://www.friendsofscience.org/index.php?id=3

MYTH 1:  Global temperatures are rising at a rapid, unprecedented rate.

FACT:  The HadCRUT3 surface temperature index, produced by the Hadley Centre of the UK Met Office and the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia, shows warming to 1878, cooling to 1911, warming to 1941, cooling to 1964, warming to 1998 and cooling through 2011. The warming rate from 1964 to 1998 was the same as the previous warming from 1911 to 1941. Satellites, weather balloons and ground stations all show cooling since 2001. The mild warming of 0.6 to 0.8 C over the 20th century is well within the natural variations recorded in the last millennium. The ground station network suffers from an uneven distribution across the globe; the stations are preferentially located in growing urban and industrial areas (“heat islands”), which show substantially higher readings than adjacent rural areas (“land use effects”). Two science teams have shown that correcting the surface temperature record for the effects of urban development would reduce the reported warming trend over land from 1980 by half. See here.

There has been no catastrophic warming recorded.

MYTH 2:  The “hockey stick” graph proves that the earth has experienced a steady, very gradual temperature decrease for 1000 years, then recently began a sudden increase.

FACT:  Significant changes in climate have continually occurred throughout geologic time. For instance, the Medieval Warm Period, from around 1000 to1200 AD (when the Vikings farmed on Greenland) was followed by a period known as the Little Ice Age. Since the end of the 17th Century the “average global temperature” has been rising at the low steady rate mentioned above; although from 1940 – 1970 temperatures actually dropped, leading to a Global Cooling scare.

The “hockey stick”, a poster boy of both the UN’s IPCC and Canada’s Environment Department, ignores historical recorded climatic swings, and has now also been proven to be flawed and statistically unreliable as well. It is a computer construct and a faulty one at that. See here for more information.

MYTH 3:  Human produced carbon dioxide has increased over the last 100 years, adding to the Greenhouse effect, thus causing most of the earth’s warming of the last 100 years.

FACT:  Carbon dioxide levels have indeed changed for various reasons, human and otherwise, just as they have throughout geologic time. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, the CO2 content of the atmosphere has increased by about 120 part per million (ppm), most of which is likely due to human-caused CO2 emissions. The RATE of growth during this century has been about 0.55%/year. However, there is no proof that CO2 is the main driver of global warming. As measured in ice cores dated over many thousands of years, CO2 levels move up and down AFTER the temperature has done so, and thus are the RESULT OF, NOT THE CAUSE of warming. Geological field work in recent sediments confirms this causal relationship. There is solid evidence that, as temperatures move up and down naturally and cyclically through solar radiation, orbital and galactic influences, the warming surface layers of the earth’s oceans expel more CO2 as a result.

MYTH 4:  CO2 is the most common greenhouse gas.

FACT:  Greenhouse gases form about 3% of the atmosphere by volume. They consist of varying amounts, (about 97%) of water vapour and clouds, with the remainder being gases like CO2, CH4, Ozone and N2O, of which carbon dioxide is the largest amount. Hence, CO2 constitutes about 0.04% of the atmosphere. While the minor gases are more effective as “greenhouse agents” than water vapour and clouds, the latter are overwhelming the effect by their sheer volume and – in the end – are thought to be responsible for 75% of the “Greenhouse effect”. (See here) At current concentrations, a 3% change of water vapour in the atmosphere would have the same effect as a 100% change in CO2.

Those attributing climate change to CO2 rarely mention these important facts.

MYTH 5:  Computer models verify that CO2 increases will cause significant global warming.

FACT:  The computer models assume that CO2 is the primary climate driver, and that the Sun has an insignificant effect on climate. Using the output of a model to verify its initial assumption is committing the logical fallacy of circular reasoning. Computer models can be made to roughly match the 20th century temperature rise by adjusting many input parameters and using strong positive feedbacks. They do not “prove” anything. Also, computer models predicting global warming are incapable of properly including the effects of the sun, cosmic rays and the clouds. The sun is a major cause of temperature variation on the earth surface as its received radiation changes all the time, This happens largely in cyclical fashion. The number and the lengths in time of sunspots can be correlated very closely with average temperatures on earth, e.g. the Little Ice Age and the Medieval Warm Period. Varying intensity of solar heat radiation affects the surface temperature of the oceans and the currents. Warmer ocean water expels gases, some of which are CO2. Solar radiation interferes with the cosmic ray flux, thus influencing the amount ionized nuclei which control cloud cover.


MYTH 6:  The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has proven that man–made CO2 causes global warming.

FACT:  In a 1996 report by the UN on global warming, two statements were deleted from the final draft approved and accepted by a panel of scientists. Here they are:

  1. “None of the studies cited above has shown clear evidence that we can attribute the observed climate changes to increases in greenhouse gases.”
  2. “No study to date has positively attributed all or part of the climate change to man–made causes”

To the present day there is still no scientific proof that man-made CO2 causes significant global warming.

MYTH 7:  CO2 is a pollutant.

FACT:  This is absolutely not true. Nitrogen forms 80% of our atmosphere. We could not live in 100% nitrogen either. Carbon dioxide is no more a pollutant than nitrogen is.  CO2 is essential to life on earth. It is necessary for plant growth since increased CO2 intake as a result of increased atmospheric concentration causes many trees and other plants to grow more vigorously. Unfortunately, the Canadian Government has included  CO2 with a number of truly toxic and noxious substances listed by the Environmental Protection Act, only as their means to politically control it.  The graph here shows changes in vegetative cover due to CO2 fertilization between 1982 and 2010 (Donohue et al., 2013 GRL). A major study here shows that CO2 fertilization will likely increase the value of crop production between now and 2050 by an additional $11.7 trillion ($US 2014). See here for more discussion.

MYTH 8: Global warming will cause more storms and other weather extremes.

FACT:   There is no scientific or statistical evidence whatsoever that supports such claims on a global scale.  Regional variations may occur. Growing insurance and infrastructure repair costs, particularly in coastal areas, are sometimes claimed to be the result of increasing frequency and severity of storms, whereas in reality they are a function of increasing population density, escalating development value, and ever more media reporting. See here for graphs and discussion of extreme weather.


MYTH 9:  Receding glaciers and the calving of ice shelves are proof of man-made global warming.

FACT:  Glaciers have been  receding and growing cyclically for hundreds of years. Recent glacier melting is a consequence of coming out of the very cool period of the Little Ice Age. Ice shelves have been breaking off for centuries. Scientists know of at least 33 periods of glaciers growing and then retreating. It’s normal. Besides, changes to glacier’s extent is dependent as much on precipitation as on temperature.


 MYTH 10:  The earth’s poles are warming and the polar ice caps are breaking up and melting.

FACT:  The earth is variable. The Arctic Region had warmed from 1966 to 2005, due to cyclic events in the Pacific Ocean and soot from Asia darkening the ice, but there has been no warming since 2005. Current temperatures are the same as in 1943. The small Palmer Peninsula of Antarctica is getting warmer, while the main Antarctic continent is actually cooling. Ice cap thicknesses in both Greenland and Antarctica are increasing. North polar temperature graph here. South polar temperature graph here. See here for sea ice extent.

More FACTS and MYTHS?  See what Professor deFreitas has to say. Click here.

Wall hits a local [Calgary] chord with his criticism of federal carbon-tax scheme

  • 2 Nov 2016
  • Calgary Herald
  • DEBORAH YEDLIN

Wall hits a local chord with his criticism of federal carbon-tax scheme

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall delivered a number of bon mots when he was honoured by the Fraser Institute in Calgary last week. The remark that delivered the biggest response, including a whistle or two, involved the issue of a carbon tax.

“A carbon tax, whether it is revenue neutral or not, by definition will impact carbon intense industries,” he said. “In Saskatchewan, we have carbon intense industries. They are the bulwark of our economy … they are agriculture, oil and gas, mining and some large manufacturing.

“Our point is this: if the carbon tax, by definition, is going to be harmful to, or hurt the competitiveness of carbon intense industries, what good is revenue neutrality?”

Canada is galloping toward a carbon tax that could impact an industry that accounts for 20 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product. South of the border, where the oilpatch is competing with this country’s oil and natural gas production, there has been no cohesive movement in that direction.

Are there other countries similarly willing to handicap their primary industries and related economic prospects for the greater good? Would the United States, the world’s largest exporter of arms, contemplate a move that would make the industry less lucrative? Not likely. It’s not that putting a price on carbon is wrong, but it must be done in a way that is constructive, not destructive.

The challenge in Canada, given the absence of federal leadership on the issue, led provinces to move on their own, in different ways.

Alberta and British Columbia chose the more transparent approach of a carbon tax. Quebec and Ontario signed on to cap and trade, which is much more opaque and perhaps the reason that route was taken.

And then there is the recent federal government pronouncement that come hell or high water there will be a national price on carbon.

What that looks like and how it affects existing policies is the big unknown. It’s therefore premature for the Alberta government to release a study on how its carbon tax will impact the provincial economy.

The one-page report determined the economic impact would be relatively small because of the “design of the program and benefits of reinvesting every dollar back into the local economy.”

Under what economic model does subsidizing two-thirds of households to offset the cost of the carbon tax constitute a reinvestment in the local economy?

Governments don’t have all the information related to costs and technology within each sector of the economy, making it difficult to quantify the impact of a new tax.

Chris Ragan, chair of the Ecofiscal Commission and a professor of economics at McGill University, says the federal government must structure its carbon policy so the price doesn’t cause businesses across different provinces to play a game of arbitrage and seek out the lowestcost jurisdiction.

An editorial published last week by members of the Ecofiscal Commission stated “all governments need to recognize the significant costs associated with carbon price differentials across jurisdictions, and think carefully about how prices can be best aligned.”

The bottom line is that a carbon pricing policy is simply unworkable.

In addition, there is the usual challenge of what’s referred to as “unintended consequences.”

For example: natural gas and the not-for-profit sector.

We’ll all agree that compared with coal, natural gas is a much more attractive fuel source for electricity since it’s cleaner burning with similar energy density.

But what does the price per thousand cubic feet of natural gas look like when a $30-per-tonne tax is tacked on?

Some number crunchers have come up with a value that adds $1.57/mcf to the price of natural gas, rising to $2.20/mcf at $50 a tonne. With natural gas prices of $0.65/mcf to $3/mcf in the past six months, it’s tough to swallow, and in the end means only one thing — higher power costs for consumers and businesses.

The irony is that the electricity will be generated by a cleaner burning fuel.

No wonder Capital Power and Enmax announced they were deferring a decision on their jointly owned Genesee 4 and 5 power plant until there is more certainty around compensation for the retirement of existing coal-fired facilities and the climate for future investment in the province’s electricity market.

Then there are the not-forprofit organizations, which squeeze value out of every dollar raised. Each one will be impacted by the carbon tax. They fundraise for programs and services delivered to the community, not to cover the cost of a carbon tax.

The Alberta government’s carbon tax analysis — which it calls preliminary — is contingent on defining too many as yet undefined variables. These include the bill for phasing out coal-fired power, subsidies required to incent investment in renewables and the need for an electricity grid to support this transition.

If the Alberta carbon tax facilitates market access off the east and west coasts of Canada, the economic picture of this province will be decidedly rosier, even with the added costs of the tax. However, it’s too early to determine whether there will be currency for the Climate Leadership Plan in that context.

In short, the government’s economic analysis posed more questions than it answered.

It would have been better advised to come forward with more clarity regarding the policies underpinning its climate strategy.

An economics professor would have fun with a red pen, asking for backup analysis and evidence for the statements made.

This province needs policy certainty.

The government’s half-baked economist impact analysis offered nothing of the sort.

 

 

Premier offers carbon pricing ‘starting point’

  • 26 Oct 2016
  • Saskatoon StarPhoenix
  • C. FRASER

Premier offers carbon pricing ‘starting point’

Closest Wall has come to signalling right time to put 2010 law into force

Premier Brad Wall signalled this week what would be the baseline for when he’d feel comfortable placing a carbon levy on the province’s heaviest greenhouse gas emitters.

“As a starting point, we’d need to see all the jobs that have been lost in the resource sector recovered,” Wall told reporters Monday.

It’s still unclear what that number is, but an estimated 12,400 resource-based jobs were lost over the course of 2015 alone in Saskatchewan.

Despite passing his own carbon price law more than a half decade ago, Wall has been hesitant to bring in any form of carbon pricing, arguing it would kneecap the economy.

On Tuesday, government MLAs and independent MLA Don McMorris voted to officially oppose the federal government’s plan to impose a carbon tax because of the possible effects on the economy.

The federal plan will put a price on carbon emissions, starting in 2018 at $10 a tonne before the price rises to $50 in 2022.

During the spring 2010 session, Wall’s government passed environmental legislation that required large carbon emitters to pay into a fund that would be used to invest in low-emission technologies, but it was never put into force.

The “starting point” he referenced this week is the closest he has come in recent memory to signalling when the time may be right to put the law into force.

Wall put forward the motion denouncing the feds’ own carbon pricing plan Monday. That motion also called for the government to support Wall’s plan to address climate change, which he outlined in a speech last week.

That plan includes making heavy emitters pay for the carbon they emit when the timing was right; or, in other words, the plan includes Wall following through on something he committed to doing six years ago.

Originally, the premier was hoping the opposition NDP would support the motion.

While they also oppose the federal plan, they instead introduced an amendment to the motion calling for the condemnation of the premier for “his failure to address climate change” in Saskatchewan.

They also called for the implementation of the heavy emitting law.

 

 

 

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