Crossroads in Alberta: Climate Capitalism or Ecological Democracy

  • Laurie Adkin University of Alberta
Keywords: fossil capitalism, neoliberal globalization, Alberta, ecological democracy, climate change, climate capitalism, decarbonization

Abstract

This paper situates the current political moment in Alberta, Canada, within a broader analysis of the global crisis of fossil capitalism. Alberta’s political economy and ecology are deeply riven by the conflict between its heavy dependence for revenue and employment on the exportation of fossil fuels, on the one hand, and the multiple harms, risks, and forms of opposition to this development model, on the other hand. With the election in May 2015 of a social democratic party, a rare window for change has opened, and much is at stake in the choices and strategies that the new government will adopt. Two potential paths –which parallel what is emerging globally--are becoming clearer:  rapid and deep decarbonisation underpinned by an equally deep democratization of citizenship and societal-decision making (ecological democracy), or a “climate capitalist” project to prolong the carbon extractive model.  

Author Biography

Laurie Adkin, University of Alberta

Associate Professor,

Comparative Politics and Environmental Studies

References

Altvater, Elmar. 2006. ‘The Social and Natural Environment of Fossil Capitalism.’ In Coming to Terms with Nature: Socialist Register 2007, edited by Leo Panitch and Colin Leys. London: The Merlin Press.

Altvater, Elmar. 1998. ‘Global order and nature,’ in Political Ecology: Global and Local, edited by Roger Keil, David V. J. Bell, Peter Penz, and Leesa Fawcett, 19-45. London and New York: Routledge.

Arlinghaus, J. 2015. ‘Impacts of Carbon Prices on Indicators of Competitiveness: A Review of Empirical Findings.’ OECD Environment Working Papers 87.

Austen, Ian. 2015. ‘Oilsands boom dries up in Alberta, taking thousands of jobs with it.’ The New York Times. 13 October. Reprinted in the Financial Post. http://business.financialpost.com/news/energy/oilsands-boom-dries-up-in-alberta-taking-thousands-of-jobs-with-it?__lsa=65f9-c2cc.

Bataille, C., Chan, J., Sawyer, D., & Adamson, R. 2014. ‘Canada.’ In Pathways to Deep Decarbonization: Final 2014 Report, edited by J. Sachs, L. Tubiana, E. Guerin, H. Waisman, C. Mas, M. Colombier & G. SchmidtTraub. Paris, France: Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI).

Bell, Rick. 2016. ‘Alberta labour leader Gil McGowan pushes back against Premier Rachel Notley’s royalty U-turn,’ Calgary Sun. 30 January.

Blair, David J. 2012. ‘Globalisation and Environmental Policy: The Role of Competitiveness Discourse in Canada’s Climate Change Policies.’ Paper presented at the 22nd World Congress of Political Science,

International Political Science Association, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, 9 July. http://paperroom.ipsa.org/papers/paper_18230.pdf.

Buck, Daniel. 1998. ‘The ecological question: can capitalism prevail?’ In Coming to Terms with Nature: Socialist Register 2007, edited by Leo Panitch and Colin Leys, 60-71. London: The Merlin Press.

Campanella, David. 2012. ‘Misplaced Generosity Update 2012: Extraordinary profits in Alberta’s oil and gas industry,’ Parkland Institute, 15 March, http://www.parklandinstitute.ca/misplaced_generosity_update_2012.

Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers [CAPP]. 2015. Submission to Alberta’s Climate Change Advisory Panel, 1 October.

Climate Change Advisory Panel. 2015. Climate Leadership: Report to Minister. November 20. Government of Alberta. http://www.alberta.ca/documents/climate/climate-leadership-report-to-minister.pdf.

Dyer, Simon. 2013. ‘What you need to know about Alberta’s 40/40 carbon pricing proposal.’ Pembina Institute, 5 April. http://www.pembina.org/blog/707.

ECORYS. 2013. ‘Carbon Leakage Evidence Project.’ Report for the European Commission, DG Climate Action. Rotterdam, Netherlands, 23 September. http://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/ets/cap/leakage/docs/cl_evidence_factsheets_en.pdf.

Giovannetti, Justin. 2016. ‘Notley shifts position, backs maintaining current energy royalties.’ The Globe and Mail. 29 January.

Government of Alberta. 2015. ‘Climate Leadership Plan,’ November. Accessed 30 January 2016. http://www.alberta.ca/climate-oilsands-emissions.cfm.

Government of Canada. 2001. Responding to the Challenge: The Climate Change Action Fund (CCAF) 1998-2001 Report. Catalogue No.: M22-139/2001. http://publications.gc.ca/collections/Collection/M22-139-2001E.pdf.

Hall, Stuart. 1988. ‘Gramsci and Us,’ in The Hard Road to Renewal: Thatcherism and the Crisis of the Left. London: Verso Books.

Leiter, A. M., Parolini, A., & Winner, H. 2011. ‘Environmental Regulation and Investment: Evidence from European Industry Data.’ Ecological Economics 70 (4): 759–70.

Lorenz, Andrea W. 2007. ‘China explains Move out of Canada, into Venezuela. CNPC executive announces China’s exit from the Gateway Pipeline Project.’ Oil Weekly. July. http://www.oilweek.com/articles.asp?ID=462.

Knopf, Brigitte and Oliver Geden. 2014. ‘A warning from the IPCC: the EU 2030’s climate target cannot be based on science alone.’ Energy Post. 26 June. http://www.energypost.eu/warning-ipcc-eu-2030s-climate-target-based-science-alone/.

Mandel, Charles. 2016. ‘The path to Alberta's climate deal,’ National Observer 7 January.

McCarthy, Shawn and Nathan Vanderklippe. 2013. ‘Alberta’s bold plan to cut emissions stuns Ottawa and oil industry.’ The Globe and Mail. 3 April.

Mitchell, Timothy. 2011. Carbon Democracy: Political Power in the Age of Oil. London: Verso Books.

Mitchelmore, Lorraine. 2015. ‘Shell Canada president: Why our industry got behind Alberta’s carbon plan,’ Contributed to The Globe and Mail, 25 November.

Moschonas, Gerassimos. 2002. In the Name of Social Democracy (The Great Transformation: 1945 to the Present). Translated by Gregory Elliott. London; New York: Verso Books.

Morgan Geoffrey and Yadullah Hussain. 2016. ‘Alberta spares oilsands companies in new royalty regime based on revenues, not oil prices.’ Financial Post 29 January 29. http://business.financialpost.com/news/energy/alberta-spares-oilsands-companies-in-new-royalty-regime-based-on-revenues-not-oil-prices?__lsa=b79f-d8df.

Mumford, Lewis. 1932. Technics and Civilization. New York, NY: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

Newell, Peter and Matthew Paterson. 2010. Climate Capitalism: Global Warming and the Transformation of the Global Economy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

PMR [Partnership for Market Readiness]. 2015. ‘Carbon Leakage: Theory, Evidence, and Policy.’ PMR Technical Note 11. World Bank, Washington, DC. License: Creative Commons Attribution CC BY 3.0 IGO.

https://www.thepmr.org/system/files/documents/Technical%20Note%2011_Carbon%20Leakage.pdf.

Pratt, Larry. 1976. The Tar Sands: Syncrude and the Politics of Oil. Edmonton: Hurtig Publishers.

Przeworski, Adam. 1980. ‘Social democracy as a historical phenomenon.’ New Left Review 122: 27-58.

Richards, John and Larry Pratt. 1981. Prairie Capitalism: Power and Influence in the New West. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart Ltd.

Roy, Jim. 2015. ‘Billions forgone: The decline in Alberta oil and gas royalties,’ Parkland Institute, University of Alberta. 23 April. http://www.parklandinstitute.ca/billions_forgone.

Royalty Review Advisory Panel. 2016. Alberta at a Crossroads: Royalty Review Advisory Panel Report. Government of Alberta. January. http://www.alberta.ca/documents/royalty-framework-report.pdf.

Sæverud, Ingvild A. and Jon Birger Skjærseth. 2007. ‘Oil Companies and Climate Change: Inconsistencies between Strategy Formulation and Implementation?’ Global Environmental Politics 7 (3): 42-63.

Sapinski, Jean Philippe. 2016. ‘Constructing Climate Capitalism: Corporate Power and the Global Climate Policy-planning Network.’ Global Networks 16 (1). January: 89-111.

Skjærseth, Jon Birger and Per Ove Eikeland, eds. 2013. Corporate Responses to EU Emissions Trading: Resistance, Innovation or Responsibility? Farnham: Ashgate.

Skjærseth, Jon Birger, Guri Bang and Miranda Schreurs. 2013. ’Explaining Growing Climate Policy Differences between the European Union and the United States.’ Global Environmental Politics 13 (4): 61-79.

Skjærseth, Jon Birger and Tora Skodvin. 2009. Climate Change and the Oil Industry: Common Problems, Varying Strategies. Manchester, Manchester University Press.

Tansey, R. 2015. ‘The Sustainable Innovation Forum 2015: Flashy greenwash at an exclusive corporate love-in.’ 9 December. http://corporateeurope.org/climate-and-energy/2015/12/sustainable-innovation-forum-2015-flashy-greenwash-exclusive-corporate.

Vaughan, Adam. 2015. ‘Earth Day: scientists say 75% of known fossil fuel reserves must stay in ground,’ The Guardian 22 April. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/apr/22/earth-day-scientists-warning-fossil-fuels-.

Williams, Raymond. 1989. Resources of Hope: Culture, Democracy, Socialism, edited by Robin Gable. London; New York: Verso.

Williams, Raymond. 1983. Towards 2000. London: Chatto & Windus; The Hogarth Press.

Published
2017-05-29