Pricing Carbon Pollution in Alberta

Publication - March 12, 2019 - By Julia-Maria Becker

Alberta is a place where people pride themselves on finding innovative solutions and not shying away from a challenge. With this solutions-oriented and entrepreneurial spirit, it is no surprise that Alberta was the first jurisdiction in North America to address greenhouse gas emissions through pricing them. As early as 2007, Alberta introduced the Specified Gas Emitters Regulation (SGER) to price carbon pollution from large emitters in the province and use the resulting revenue for investments in low-carbon technology. Pricing carbon pollution reduces emissions at the lowest economic cost, can drive innovation and be designed in a way that protects businesses’ competitiveness and low-income households. 

Recently, however, the discussion in Alberta has shifted from how to best implement a price on carbon pollution, to if one should be implemented at all. This thinking goes against evidence from scientists, economists, and business leaders. Economists and thought leaders across the political spectrum and businesses support a price on carbon pollution to lower greenhouse gas emissions as part of a comprehensive plan to tackle climate change.

This report provides an overview of how pricing pollution works to lower emissions while maintaining a strong economy, and how it has been implemented in Alberta since its early start in 2007. The report also provides recommendations on how Alberta should move forward.


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