Friday, February 01, 2008

Supporting carbon capture and storage in Alberta

Following close on the release of Alberta's heavily criticized GHG reduction plan, a joint federal-Alberta task force has recommended the federal government spend $2 billion to kickstart carbon capture and storage (CCS) in Alberta.

The task force nails one point: we have to stop blustering about CCS and put some shovels in the ground. The question is who should pay. If the federal government enacted a carbon pricing policy - whether a tax or cap and trade - the onus would fall as it should on the companies responsible for emissions. That's how it happens with all other regulated emissions.

Here, with no price on carbon, the task force and the oil companies are effectively saying that nothing will happen unless the federal government kicks in money at the beginning. If this happens, it will be widely criticized as a handout to oil companies.

It is not unreasonable to ask the government to play venture capitalist, to provide seed money to help advance new more sustainable technologies or industries. Oil is hardly a fledging industry. And, in any case, for the technology to thrive, the seed money has to be coupled with regulation. Otherwise, it is a handout.

No comments: