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Canada Needs a Consensus on Carbon: CCCE

July 5, 2008

I’ve never been a big fan of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, but you’ve got to admit – if they that something is good for business, chances are it’s good for business.

So when CCCE head Thomas d’Aquino suggests that Canada needs to get its act together and decide on a single, national plan to deal with carbon emissions, one would hope that politicians and captains of industry alike would sit up and take notice. Especially when he is making these statements in front of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce.

In the absence of an integrated national plan, d’Aquino said different levels of government need to do a better job of integrating and coordinating their approaches.

In the regard, d’Aquino said Canada needs to pursue what he called environmental federalism. “Priority No. 1 is to come up with some sort of cohesion in our national plan,” d’Aquino said.

Even more remarkably, he goes on to say,

“The climate change change debate should not been seen as a threat, but as a huge opportunity for all of us.”

Given that the CCCE represents, by definition, the interests of corporations rather than people, it’s hardly surprising that d’Aquino is expressing confidence that Canada can reach a technological solution “rather than curtailing growth”. And he sees pros and cons in both the Liberal and Conservative plans to limit carbon emissions.

Still, it was interesting seeing his concerns about Canada being hurt economically by this lack of consensus echoed only a week later by the CEO of Norway’s StatoilHydro:

Speaking to the World Petroleum Congress, Helge Lund said the lack of a clear carbon reduction strategy has prompted the company to put off the upgrading portion of its integrated oilsands project until 2016, two years later than planned.

“Making an upgrader investment decision is a huge undertaking and the fact that there is uncertainty related to the future regulatory regime, including the cost of CO2, we need more clarity on that before we can make a final decision,” he said.

Norway, of course, has a $60/tonne carbon tax, and Statoil has done very well there by becoming a world leader in carbon capture and sequestration technology.

The message from both men is clear. Business and industry, particularly the energy industry, fully expect to pay a price for carbon, one way or another. They just want to be told how much.

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