Alberta Announces Landmark Climate Protection Strategy

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley announced a transformative three-pronged climate protection plan on November 22 that will cap greenhouse gas emissions from oil sands development, add a carbon tax, and phase-out coal power plants.
November 25, 2015, 5am PST | Irvin Dawid
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At a meeting where "the premiers and territorial leaders jointly met with the prime minister for the first time in nearly seven years, "Notley gave a brief summary of the plan she revealed Sunday which includes a phased-in $30/tonne carbon tax, a hard cap on oil sands emissions starting in 2017, and the ending of coal powered electricity generation by 2030," writes Josh Dehaas of CTV News.

Alberta is where Canada's vast oil wealth is located in the form of oil sands, which is said by many to be the most carbon-emitting type of oil. Despite the local economy suffering due to the plunge in oil prices, "the plans won plaudits from powerful oil executives along with environmental groups," write Justin Giovannetti and Jeffrey Jones for The Globe and Mail via Business News Networks.

New measures include (a) 100-megatonne cap on carbon emissions from the oil sands, Canada’s fastest-growing source of emissions, once new rules are adopted. It currently emits 70 megatonnes annually.

Nutley referred to the recent rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline:

“We got a major wake-up call a few weeks ago in the form of a kick in the teeth from the government of the United States,” Ms. Notley said. “Unfairly in my view, the President of the United States claimed that our production is some of the dirtiest oil in the world. That is the reputation that mistaken government policy in the past has earned for us.”

"British Columbia Premier Christy Clark later told reporters she was 'really pleased' with Alberta’s choice of a wide-ranging carbon tax regime similar to the one B.C. implemented in 2008." The Alberta webpage refers to the scheme as "carbon pricing."

Ontario and Quebec have committed to a cap-and-trade plan to reduce emissions. Ontario also managed to fully eliminate coal powered electricity generation by 2014, although not without complaints about growing electricity bills.

Arguably the most difficult part of the plan will be the phase-out of coal power plants which supply 55 percent of the province's electricity. According to CBC News:

Two-thirds of coal-generated electricity will be replaced by renewables — primarily wind power — while natural gas generation will continue to provide firm base-load reliability.

Read more on the plan on the provincial website.

Hat tip to Paul Gipe via Ed Mainland

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Published on Monday, November 23, 2015 in CTV
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