Trudeau’s ultimatum on carbon tax angers provinces

Plus, Canada's oil industry loses $10 billion, farmers protest Monsanto takeover, and Obama's Clean Power Plan faces attack

Credit: Mark Woodbury/Flickr

A $50 a tonne carbon tax, as the Liberals will impose, would drive up pump prices by 11 cents a litre.

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Three provincial environment ministers walked out of the federal-provincial climate talks on Monday after Prime Minister Trudeau announced his government’s plan to set a minimum carbon tax. He told the premiers that if their provinces don’t adopt a carbon tax or cap-and-trade plan, Ottawa would impose its own levy—a minimum of $50 a tonne by 2022—and return the revenue to the provinces. Canada’s four biggest provinces—Ontario, Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia—have carbon-pricing plans, and offered their support for the federal approach on Monday. Others, including Saskatchewan, argue the added burden of a carbon-pricing plan on consumers and the energy industry will hurt economies already suffering from low commodity prices. (Globe and Mail)


Canada’s oil extraction industry will lose $10 billion this year, the first time on record it’s failed to be profitable two years in a row. That’s according to the Conference Board of Canada, which also predicts the oil industry’s losing streak will last nearly three years, from the last quarter of 2014 through to the second quarter of 2017. A return to profitability is not guaranteed. The report says the oil industry must learn from the past and do a better job of limiting its costs—one area that companies can control. (Financial Post


A Canadian farming federation and an anti-GMO network are separately calling on the federal Competition Bureau to review the possible implications of Bayer’s $66-billion US takeover of seed giant Monsanto. As two of the world’s biggest agriculture companies, Germany-based Bayer and U.S.-based Monsanto would control about 90 per cent of the canola seed market in Canada if they consolidate. “This merger could further increase the price of seed, decrease choice in the marketplace for Canadian farmers, and stifle research and development,” says a Sept. 15 submission to the Competition Bureau by the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, a group of 17 organizations with “serious concerns about genetic engineering in food and farming.” (CBC)


President Obama’s Clean Power Plan—the central plank in his strategy to combat climate change—is in danger. Not only is it under attack in court, where its legality was challenged last week by a coalition of 28 states and scores of companies and industry groups, but fossil fuel interests and Republicans in Congress are bound to block its passage. But now, another threat to the president’s plan to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases from the nation’s power sector is coming from an unlikely bipartisan collection of senators that includes staunch Republican climate change deniers as well as Democrats who support the administration’s strategy. Their argument? They want to force the government to assume that burning forests to generate electricity does not add carbon dioxide to the air but is instead “carbon neutral.” Because, they say, forests can be regrown and should therefore be considered “a renewable energy source.” (The New York Times