Alberta’s New Direction

The Government of Alberta is currently in the process of conducting two major environment- and sustainability-related public consultation processes: one on climate change and the other on the energy royalty system in Alberta. Delphi Policy Analyst, Shruchi Bhargava, recently attended a Climate Change Open House hosted by the Alberta government in Calgary, and shares what she heard and learned in this blog post. Delphi will post a blog on the royalty review after the session on October 5th.

The Government of Alberta wants to establish a new climate change plan before the end of 2015

The Government of Alberta would like to have a new proposal in time for the UN Conference of Parties (COP) talks later this year (Nov. 30 – Dec. 11) in Paris. Their intent is to:

– Be seen as a change from previous Conservative governments;
– Maintain the leadership status that Alberta had when it was the first province in North America to put a price on carbon; and,
– Manage their risk and maintain access to global markets. Given the oil sands represent the most carbon-intensive form of fossil fuel extraction, more aggressive carbon regulation will demonstrate that the Government of Alberta is acknowledging the need and taking responsibility for reducing carbon emissions.

The Government of Alberta has appointed a panel – with representatives from academia, industry, environment, and First Nations communities – to advise the government on a suite of policy options and help answer the following four key questions:

– How should Alberta put a price on carbon?
– How should Alberta transition to more a sustainable electricity system?
– How should Alberta grow the renewable energy sector?
– How should Alberta increase energy efficiency across the province?

The government has also released a discussion paper and is seeking feedback from the general public as well as industry. The discussion paper represents a shift in policy, and states, “Alberta’s policies must address emissions from all sources – oil and gas, electricity, transportation, buildings and houses, industry, construction, manufacturing, agriculture, forestry and waste.” Covering this variety of sectors is a shift from current policies that focus on large emitters (producing over 100 kt CO2e), which account for half of Alberta’s GHG emissions, as opposed to all sources.

Next steps:

The panel expects to deliver a report on their findings, recommendations and a suite of options in late October or early November, although it is unclear whether the report will be made publicly available or if the panel will be reporting to the government directly. What was clear from attending the open house is that Alberta’s new government is looking to break from the past and establish Alberta as a leader in addressing national and international concerns regarding climate change.

Contributors: 
Shruchi Bhargava –  Analyst (sbhargava@delphi.ca)
Jessica Butts – Consultant, Policy Lead (jbutts@delphi.ca)
Alex Carr – Senior Associate (acarr@delphi.ca)

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