The new carbon economy

Our recent series of carbon stories, coverage of the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan’s Prairie Carbon Summit and my last week’s column seem to have sparked a few of you to reach out to me.

That’s what we like at The Western Producer, and I know that APAS’s goal was also to inform and involve prairie farmers. So, good-on-ya, as they say Down Under, where they abandoned carbon taxes but kept market-based carbon pricing that farmers can sell.

I received several emails, phone calls and a few texts that suggested our coverage failed to discuss whether climate change is real.

In my mind that would be like wading into a slough to find out how deep it is. Does it really matter? It’s still a slough and unless I have a drainage permit, I can’t change that.

However, if it’s big enough, I could irrigate from it, and that is how we need to approach carbon taxes and pricing going forward.

The war over climate change and global warming is over. So continuing to encourage skirmishes is not time or money well spent for Canadian farmers. Best to focus on creating public policy that mitigates new costs that have a cooling effect on farms’ balance sheets.


If Canada were a room with 100 folks in it, farmers would take up one chair. Food and ag combined would get a small table of four, depending on how you count them.

Even if all of ag believed that climate change isn’t caused by greenhouse gas emissions, which they don’t, the vast majority of Canadians do. And that is all that matters. Some might change their minds when gas goes up to $1.35 per litre, but for the moment we need to get on with being seen to do the right things and mitigating exposure to the expense.

Despite President Donald Trump’s bravado, the U.S. will at some point be meeting the Paris Accord’s requirements for market reasons. For now it creates opportunity for Canada to show that we can deliver on our promises and market our clean image: clean air, clean water, clean food production.

Let’s go get some market share, but first we need the other 96 folks in the Canadian room to allow some public policies that let us profit from our efforts.

Debates over climate change won’t put silver in producers’ pockets, but they will tarnish our shiny industry in consumers’ minds.


  • Harold

    “Does it really matter” Michael? Clearly you could have stopped writing beyond this statement because the rest was only a justification for the WP’s indifference to the subject matter of climate change. The job of the media is to investigate matters from all angles (unbiased) and to report it. The job of scientists and the public are the debates. Canada is not a room of 100 occupants; it is a Country of of over 35 million and where every man, woman, and child are effected by taxation. The price of gasoline represents only a fraction of a fraction of what each Canadian will pay.
    The Liberal Government in embarrassment and deceit will not release their documents entitled:
    Impact of a carbon tax on household consumption costs across the income distribution and,
    Estimating economic impacts from various mitigation options for greenhouse gas emissions,
    or any other documents that can calculate the costs of carbon taxes on Canadian workers, businesses, and families.

    These documents are taxpayer funded and therefore owned by taxpayers and to further slap the faces of all Canadians, our MP Representatives in betrayal voted 215 to 77 to defeat a motion to make this information public. Did the Liberal Party pay for these documents out of their own wages? There are only 77 MP’s who believe that Canadians have a right to know. The Liberal Party led by Justin Trudeau pledged transparency and so far only the opposite has occurred.
    Contrary to your Belief; more pocket money and less taxes DO “put silver in producers’ pockets”. Furthermore, if there is a war, it is a war against meaningful information and it is waged against the people of Canada and it is not the fictional notion that there is a “war over climate change”.

  • Mike Blair

    So what about the “environmental” tax I already pay. As a purchaser of substantial quantities of oil in Manitoba I already pay a lot for what could and should be seen as and called a “carbon tax”. I pay $0.05 for every bulk liter of oil and $0.15 for every individually packaged liter of oil I buy. WE ALREADY HAVE A CARBON TAX!!! WHY MORE?

    • Harold

      Why more? Because governments by their own nature cannot stop themselves from arbitrarily taking your money until your pockets are completely empty.
      Governments by their own nature cannot offer freedom; they can only take away freedoms and offer punitive measures and self generating arbitrary cash awards that are payable to the government or jail.
      What can the government do when the people in mass refuse to participate in the governments illusions. Lock us all up? We have the power over government to become more self-determining but we do not use it appropriately and that is the Canadian legacy; government servitude. Did we all have a happy 150th?

    • Kissing optional

      Actually Mike the enviro fee/tax you pay is supposed to cover the cost of proper disposal of those products when you give them to your local disposal agency
      As for ‘the carbon tax’ … it is a carbon pricing mechanism that will generate revenue for your local provincial government to do with as it pleases. Such as reduce provincial income tax, provincial sales taxes, increase infrastructure spending, school budget increases health budget increases, et cetera.
      I understand your fear of giving this funding to your provincial government. if we in fact lived in the same province, Saskatchewan, here, this guy has a penchant for blowing big money and generally squandering and mismanaging.
      Perhaps if previous and current governments hadn’t been doling corporate welfare to the oil industries and other biggest carbon users, we would have been paying a truer cost for it in the first place.
      As your province has the same governmental ideologies, it will likely not be a reduction until you yourself can consume less.

      • Harold

        The idea of proper disposal and recycling came from the concerns of motivated persons in our society. The methods were developed by members of society of the same concern. The only thing that was developed by government was punitive regulations, licensing fees, and taxation, which they soft sell to the public as a much nicer sounding Enviro fee. If the government had not been involved, what we see today would still be here but only stronger and more lucrative and even glass would be recycled. Things have always happened because it was their time and not because of any government. We have taken upon ourselves the stupidity of government and have made it their time and that is why we are failing. You seem to have the mistaken belief that all good and development comes from the Minds in government. The minds of the people have always been far superior to that of a government. If this isn’t true, then your complaint against Brad Wall is unfounded and he is not your servant.
        Regarding Carbon reduction, how does taking money from us and then giving it back to us, plus increase infrastructure spending, school budget increases health budget increases, et cetera, reduce carbon emissions? It is NOT a carbon tax- it is a tax – tax. You have been “soft sold” into taxation slavery.
        Without government – Canadians would direct their dollars to the green sources and the green sources would directly proper and expand. This is called Capitalism; it is the root of Democracy.
        How many government tax dollars is necessary to make a change in the climate and what measurement do you expect to see and in what year? Without taxation what will the climate temperature be in the same year?
        I am sure that you have a written guarantee somewhere and that justifies the lower income people of Canada suffering and living in energy poverty while we pursue these governmental taxation ideologies.