Calgary Herald

Alberta won’t hit emissions target

NDP says its strategies ‘get results,’ dismisses federal push for 30% cut


While Alberta expects to see greenhouse gas emissions reduced by its climate-change policies, the province is likely to fall well short of reaching Canada’s emissions targets even under the best-case scenario for its initiative­s, according to the province’s latest progress report.

In December, the NDP government quietly released the 201617 progress report on its sweeping climate leadership plan, which includes a broad-based carbon tax, an accelerate­d phase-out of coal-fired power, a cap on oilsands emissions and significan­t cuts to methane emissions.

The report projects that with the measures in the NDP’s climate initiative, emissions will be reduced from 274 megatonnes in 2015 to 254 megatonnes by 2030. Adding in potential reductions from innovation, the figure is reduced to 222 megatonnes by 2030.

Without the climate plan, the emissions level would be projected to hit between 293 and 317 megatonnes under differing scenarios.

However, the Canadian government has committed to cutting its emissions to 30 per cent under 2005 levels by 2030, a target that — if followed by Alberta — would require the province to reach a level of 163 megatonnes by that year.

Alberta Environmen­t Minister Shannon Phillips said Ottawa has the right to set the national targets but she downplayed their significan­ce.

“We are putting in policies that get results. We are less interested in theoretica­l targets; we are more interested in actual action,” said Phillips.

“This is a national conversati­on that the feds — if they’re going to wed themselves to targets — that they need to come to the table with a robust plan for how to get there that protects Canada’s competitiv­eness.”

Under the NDP plan, Alberta introduced a broad-based carbon tax at the start of 2017 to accompany the existing levy on large emitters such as the oilsands.

The carbon tax was initially priced at an equivalent of $20 per tonne of carbon emissions, increasing to $30 this year.

The levy system on industrial emitters was also revamped this year, with a current base price of $30 per tonne.

In conjunctio­n with the federal Liberal government’s mandate for provinces to price carbon, the carbon tax and levy on large emitters are slated to increase to $40 a tonne in 2021 and $50 in 2022.

On Wednesday, the United Conservati­ve Party, which has defined itself against the broad-based carbon tax, said a leaked federal memo suggests Ottawa will look to boost the carbon price beyond $50 a tonne after 2022 and force provinces to follow suit.

The Finance Department memo calls for a review of the federal government’s climate plan, including carbon pricing, by 2022 to “confirm the path forward, including increases in stringency in future years.”

UCP house leader Jason Nixon said the document raises questions over whether an Alberta NDP government will simply hike the carbon tax after 2022 in line with Ottawa.

“We know that some carbon tax proponents have indicated they think it should go up as high as $150 a tonne,” he said at a Calgary news conference.

The memo also says the federal government will complete an interim report by 2020 that assesses the different approaches to carbon pricing across Canada, as well as best practices in addressing the competitiv­eness of emissionsi­ntensive, trade-exposed sectors such as the oil and gas industry.

Phillips scoffed at the UCP, saying there has never been any expectatio­n the Liberal government would stand pat on its climate plan.

But she said Alberta has no plans to increase the carbon levy beyond $50 a tonne.

“We’re not considerin­g increases beyond 2022,” said Phillips.

The NDP minister said any discussion of raising the carbon tax beyond that level is hypothetic­al but suggested there would need to be movement from other jurisdicti­ons on climate action and significan­t concession­s from Ottawa.

“More stringent policies in Alberta would come at a significan­t cost to the province because of the lost competitiv­eness and it would have a negligible impact on global emissions.”

The progress report projects that the current suite of NDP policies will reduce emissions to 267 megatonnes through 2018

Sara Hastings-Simon of the Pembina Institute environmen­tal think-tank said the government’s climate change plan is “a good start,” and it’s not a major concern if Alberta is not projecting that it will reach the national targets at this point.

She noted Canada is not on track to meet the 2030 emissions target as a whole and there needs to be a national conversati­on on “who needs to do more and how much.”

We know that some carbon tax proponents have indicated they think it should go up as high as $150 a tonne.

 ??  ?? Shannon Phillips
Shannon Phillips

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada