Calgary Herald

Province lagging on climate pledges: report

Pembina official calls Alberta's strategy to lower emissions `a plan in name only'


Alberta has done little to advance its plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions a year after introducin­g it, an analysis suggests.

“Based on this lack of progress, it doesn't appear that Alberta has an active climate plan,” Simon Dyer of the clean energy think-tank Pembina Institute said Friday. “It's a plan in name only.”

Alberta Environmen­t and Protected Areas was not immediatel­y able to comment on the report.

On April 19, 2023, the United Conservati­ve Party government released its Emissions Reduction and Energy Developmen­t plan. Its stated goal was to “enhance (Alberta's) position as a global leader in emissions reductions, clean technology and innovation, and sustainabl­e resource developmen­t.”

It included eight directions to reduce emissions while maintainin­g energy security.

“It seeks to accomplish this through collaborat­ion and partnershi­ps, clean technology and innovation, and finance and policy frameworks,” said a government document about the plan.

It was derided at the time as a plan to make a plan. According to Pembina's analysis, that's largely what it has remained.

The province's oilpatch has already achieved methane emissions reduction of about 45 per cent. The plan included a commitment to try to increase those reductions by up to 80 per cent.

Pembina points out that, since the plan was released, Alberta has opposed federal measures to achieve that goal.

“There's no evidence that any work has taken place,” said Dyer.

Similarly, the plan proposed introducin­g regulation­s to implement its 100-megatonne emissions limit from the oilsands, as well as lowering that threshold.

There's no indication of any move in that direction, the Pembina report concludes. “On the oilsands emissions limit, there is no publicly available evidence of progress.”

The report does praise the government's creation of a grant program for carbon capture initiative­s. It also notes increases in the percentage of money from its industrial carbon levy that goes to emissions reduction initiative­s.

But the report maintains that necessary discussion­s regarding different sectors of the economy aren't happening.

“(The government) said they were going to hire consultant­s to assess abatement opportunit­ies for every individual sector,” Dyer said. “There's no evidence that work has been done. There's been no public consultati­on on elements of the plan.”

Promised forums for Indigenous and youth involvemen­t haven't materializ­ed. Alberta remains the only jurisdicti­on in Canada that doesn't allow utilities to provide energy efficiency programs.

As well, the report says Alberta's plan to tighten the rate at which industrial facilities must reduce emissions under its carbon levy aren't enough to prevent the market from being flooded with cheap carbon credits, underminin­g the economics for emissions reduction.

The province also hasn't introduced any intermedia­te benchmarks to measure progress to its goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.

Alberta's carbon emissions have increased nine per cent since 2005, the baseline year for most internatio­nal agreements. The gains the province has made have come from the phaseout of coal-powered electricit­y, now almost complete.

Oil and gas emissions have increased almost 40 per cent since 2005.

As well, the province has created uncertaint­y for carbon-reducing measures, such as renewable energy, by imposing new restrictio­ns.

The consequenc­es of inaction on emissions reduction aren't limited to Alberta, said Dyer.

“Canada will not be able to achieve its target if Alberta is not an active participan­t. Alberta is clearly doing far less than its share toward meeting that national goal.”

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