Suncor CEO says taxation may be answer to climate change

WATCH: The head of Canada’s largest energy company says tougher action is needed to combat climate change, and he’s not ruling out taxing customers. David Boushy reports.

CALGARY – The head of Canada’s largest energy company says tougher action is needed to combat climate change and he’s not ruling out taxing consumers in order to do it.

Many came together for a panel discussion in the heart of downtown Calgary Friday, to discuss climate strategy and in particular – carbon pricing.

The head of Canada’s largest energy company Suncor CEO Steve Williams says it makes sense to have a carbon tax applied broadly to consumers.

“A very broadly-based tax where people realize what the prices are at the point of consumption,” Williams said. “A realization by the consumer is very important, because if you want energy efficiency, if you want people to change their behaviors and affect the demand side, you have to get to those users.”

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Williams says we could see the tax hike at the pumps or added to our utility bills.

While support for carbon pricing is by no means unanimous, the Pembina Institute – which advocates for clean energy – is encouraged by Suncor’s position.

“That resonates well with us, and it’s a good starting point to bring stakeholders together in a transparent way and move the ball forward,” Amin Asadollahi from the Pembina Institute said.

The institute says it’s important to move gradually, so that industry and consumers have time to prepare.

Former Alberta treasurer Jim Dinning says having someone like Williams supporting a carbon tax is significant.

“The fact that he’s willing to be part of that debate, should mean that we – the small emitters in our homes in SW Calgary, we all got to be part of the conversation,” Jim Dinning said.

“The fact is, we need a price on emissions and we should get on with it now,” Dinning said.

Steve Williams does caution against rushing into any increased price on carbon, adding that lot of damage can be done if policy makers don’t take the time to get the details right.