In the same week that Tony Abbott declared the dumping of Australia’s carbon price as his greatest achievement for women for 2014, one of his greatest allies in climate denial – Canadian PM Stephen Harper – has made what appears to be an about face on pricing carbon, conceding in an interview that he would be open to the idea of such a policy mechanism for the whole of Canada.
Just last week, Harper – whose approach to climate and energy policy has largely mirrored that of the Australian PM – called the idea of imposing federal rules on Canada’s oil and gas industry “crazy.”
“Under the current circumstances of the oil and gas sector, it would be crazy, it would be crazy economic policy to do unilateral penalties on that sector. We’re clearly not going to do it,” Harper said in the House of Commons.
Days later, however, Harper told a CBC News correspondent that he’d be open to using a carbon-pricing system like that implemented in the state of Alberta for the entire continent.
In Alberta, energy heavy polluting companies are required to reduce their energy intensity, or improve their energy efficiency, annually. If they don’t, they must contribute to a technology fund at $15 a tonne for carbon emissions.
“I think it’s a model on which you could, on which you could go broader,” Harper said in Wednesday’s interview.
“It’s not a levy, it’s a price. And there’s a tech fund in which … [the] private sector makes investments.”
Harper also told the interviewer his government was doing its bit in the fight against global warming, and that Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions had dropped on his watch.
This change of attitude from Harper on carbon pricing reflects badly on Tony Abbott, who just six months stood beside his Canadian counterpart – literally and figuratively – in taking a hard line against climate measures they described as economically reckless.
As CBC News reported in June, “the Canadian and Australian prime ministers, who praised each other’s policies and called each other by their first names, met in Ottawa as Abbott stopped in on his way to Washington, DC.
And it quoted Harper, who said “no matter what they say, no country is going to take actions that are going to deliberately destroy jobs and growth in their country. We are just a little more frank about that.
“It’s not that we don’t seek to deal with climate change. But we seek to deal with it in a way that will protect and enhance our ability to create jobs and growth, not destroy jobs and growth in our countries. And frankly, every single country in the world, this is their position,” Harper said.
Abbott, meanwhile, has nominated the dumping of Australia’s world-leading carbon price as his top political achievement for the year – as Minister for Women.
“Well, you know, it is very important to do the right thing by families and households,” Abbott told Channel 9’s Today How on Monday morning.
“As many of us know, women are particularly focused on the household budget and the repeal of the carbon tax means a $550 a year benefit for the average family.”