So here we go, folks.

The Notley government’s Climate Leadership package has descended upon us.

Your home heating bill has a new carbon levy charge. Your price per litre of gasoline now has a 5 cent a litre carbon levy built in.

Environment Minister Shannon Phillips has announced the broad outlines of a $645-million program (over five years) to promote energy efficiency in Alberta homes and businesses. About $36 million is being made available this year to subsidize home solar panel installation, and $21.5 million for free home upgrades for energy-efficient products.

At the mega-level, i.e. in the billions, this government has decided to eat all the costs of a long-term deal with utility companies to get rid of coal in the current 2016-17 budget. That decision adds another billion dollars to a provincial deficit now predicted to hit $10.8 billion by the end of March.

There’s no middle ground. Either you are all for this kind of government spending for the greater good, or you are aghast at what you consider a huge waste of taxpayer dollars (and carbon levy) for nothing but token action on climate change.

If you’re pro …

You are deeply convinced that excess carbon emissions are at the root of climate change, that the planet must be saved. Alberta’s contribution to world carbon emissions may be insignificant at .05 per cent, but as a first-world country and province, we must lead by example.

Likewise, energy efficiency measures at the household level are insignificant — only 12.5 per cent of Alberta’s electricity is used residentially. But again, it’s leading by example.

And if we don’t show leadership, how can we expect other provinces to allow pipelines to ship Alberta oil to both Eastern Canada and countries other than the U.S.?

Ultimately, it’s simply the right thing to do. Alberta has to clean up its environmental act to the highest possible standards, and if that imposes a higher tax burden, so be it.

And we simply have to diversify our economy to end our reliance on fossil fuels. Somehow or other, we’ll manage to pay for it, because otherwise continuing to use fossil fuels will asphyxiate the entire world, including us.

If you’re aghast …

This entire exercise — introducing a new tax (carbon levy) to be used to fight climate change — is nothing but symbolic. As has been amply demonstrated in Ontario, billions of public dollars will be wasted in this hare-brained, emotion-driven scheme that will have next-to-no effect on lowering global greenhouse gas emissions and simply plunge the provincial government further into debt.

What’s even crazier is the fact all our emission and pollution goals can be achieved simply by switching over from coal-made electricity to low-emission natural gas — a process that need not cost the taxpayer a dime.

Grants and incentives to promote household energy efficiency are completely unnecessary. Every refrigerator, oven and washing machine sold today is vastly more energy efficient than the appliance being replaced. This is simply giving taxpayer’s money to other taxpayers who are the first to apply for the grants before the funds run out.

Likewise, why subsidize solar panels? They are coming down in price, but there are so many complications (installation costs, off-grid, partially off-grid, batteries, transmission costs of selling back into the grid) that only the most environmentally conscious are ready to jump in. At this point unsubsidized power panels are not competitive in price with grid-provided power.

Ultimately, this massive government spending — creating new energy bureaucracies, administrating and collecting the carbon levy, subsidizing this and that, grants here and there, insisting on replacing coal power with far more expensive renewable energy — needs not be done. Natural gas is our logical, most cost-effective, clean-burning saviour, not solar panels, wind farms or bio-mass.

Ultimately these two very different visions will be presented to Alberta’s voters in the next provincial election — likely between the Notley New Democrats and a Jason Kenney-led merger of the free-enterprise Alberta PC and Wildrose political parties.

Much is at stake.