Canadian Oil Companies Demand Pay-the-Rich Scheme to Build Carbon Capture Facilities
Reuters reports, “Oil and gas companies have asked the Canadian government to design a tax credit to pay for 75 per cent of the cost to build carbon capture facilities that will curb greenhouse gas emissions, the country’s main energy industry group said on October 21.
“The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) made the request in August to the Department of Finance just before the federal election campaign, setting the tax credit at a level high enough to provide an economic return, Ben Brunnen, CAPP’s Vice-President of Oil Sands, told Reuters.”
The CAPP demand in effect is an admission that the old organization and property relations of the economy to benefit private companies and investors no longer works. A new direction is necessary that recognizes that the economy today is socialized and for the various enterprises and sectors to play their role in a socially responsible manner they need to be human-centred and under the control of the people not global private interests.
Building carbon capture facilities is one aspect of meeting the challenge facing the energy sector to carry out production in a socially responsible manner. Others recently reported include dealing with the enormous numbers of abandoned or orphan oil and gas sites, for which the private owners refuse to be accountable.
Energy production on the massive scale needed in the modern era has long been recognized as a social responsibility that should be organized as a public utility. How to do that while taking the health and well-being of Mother Earth and her human beings into consideration has never been a concern of the rich oligarchs. Their aim for maximum profit at all costs is what drives their adventures in production, which is precisely why a new pro-social aim and direction and human-centred control are needed for the economy. How to bring a new direction into being is a challenge working people face.
Oligarchs View Public Funds as Their Right to Possess
The oligarchs throughout the economy want energy to power their facilities while also demanding a maximum return from energy production and distribution. How can the provision of energy required in a modern economy occur in a socially responsible manner if the central and determining aim is maximum private profit?
Within the current direction of the economy even posturing in defence of the environment let alone actual deeds cannot and do not happen without pay-the-rich schemes. If private energy producers are asked to produce in a responsible manner and clean up the pollution and mess they leave behind, they demand that pooled resources from other parts of the economy are made available to pay the rich. They refuse to even contemplate an alternative of a new pro-social aim and direction for the economy with property relations in conformity with the socialized nature of modern production. Such a thought would assault their class nature and being.
Brunnen tells Reuters that carbon capture for oil and gas operations is more costly because the amount captured is “less concentrated than that of some other large emitters, such as fertilizer plants. That means that capture costs are higher on a per tonne basis for oil companies. […] ‘Because of that, this [pay-the-rich credit] needs to be designed to drive a balance and reflect the economic realities. The government role should be providing the playing field to enable companies to make these investments.'”
Why is the government role to find a “balance” to pay the rich? Why is the role of government to “provide a playing field to enable companies” to make private profits to defend and enlarge their personal wealth and class privilege? It can only be because the oligarchs control the political affairs of the country and the direction of the economy. To “reflect the economic realities” requires a new direction to stop paying the rich, increase funding for social programs and bring the property relations in the base of the economy into conformity with its modern socialized nature.
Brunnen takes for granted the status quo of private ownership of the main sectors of the economy. In so many words he declares that because the private global oligarchs who own and dominate the energy sector expect and must receive maximum profit, then anything that arises such as carbon capture, which may detract from that aim and prospect, has to be funded by the government. He does not find irony and backwardness in his position because his privileged position is found in the status quo and his patrons are the global energy oligarchs.
Why should the rest of the economy hand over money to the private oligarchs of the energy sector or any sector for that matter? The other main sectors of the economy likewise owned and dominated by global oligarchs also want maximum profit and do not want to have their enterprises and sectors forced to hand over money to other oligarchs. This creates crises and conflict, even conditions for civil war among competing sections of the rich battling to control and benefit from the state treasury and political power.
To pay the rich is the priority for the oligarchs and their representatives. Social programs or any other program that directly benefits the people and Mother Earth are denied, cut back and drained of public funds and resources in order to pay the rich. Nothing is done unless private profit can be squeezed from it. Just look at the obscene profits the pharmaceutical oligarchs have seized from the pandemic.
The CAPP demand for a 75 per cent tax credit is comparable to the proposed “sweetened” credit in the United States. The Trudeau government responded dutifully as it always does to serve the rich and organized “industry consultations in June on the make-up of its proposed carbon capture investment tax credit,” Reuters reports. “Although the government calls its proposed carbon capture support a tax credit, CAPP wants it to function more as a grant, with Ottawa reimbursing carbon capture proponents a percentage of their costs as they build the facilities, Brunnen said.
“Canada aims to provide incentives for at least two massive carbon capture hubs by 2030 and sequester at least 15 million tonnes of carbon annually in total by that year. Realistically, Canada might advance two projects in the next three years with combined capacity for 3 million tonnes of carbon sequestration per year, costing about C$3 billion, Brunnen said.
“Several companies have stepped forward with proposals for carbon capture hubs in Alberta, including Royal Dutch Shell, TC Energy and a consortium of the five biggest Canadian oil producers.” Hurray for the global oligarchs of Shell et al! They swear to do their best to save the planet as long as they are paid handsomely for doing it.
The ruling elite in political and economic control refuse to face, let alone accept the reality that private ownership of the now completely socialized economy is a contradiction that must be resolved. They demand pay-the-rich schemes for virtually any development. This alone proves the necessity for a new direction. If the public purse is required to pay for carbon capture and any other development then what is the role or use of the private ownership and class privilege of the rich oligarchs? They have proved in practice to be a drag on the economy and society that should be cut loose.
The people are being forced to prop up an imperialist system of property relations controlled by a social class of rich oligarchs who refuse to recognize the obvious because their private interests and class being preclude them from doing so. This means working people themselves must do it. They must organize and force through the necessary change towards a new direction where the main enterprises and sectors of the economy are under human-centred ownership and control with an aim to serve the well-being of the people and humanize the social and natural environment. The time is now for a new direction. The ruling elite in control are the first to prove that necessity through their words and deeds. Time to leave them behind!