The Paradox of Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan

by Philly Dias on November 25, 2016 - 11:52pm

A little over a year ago, the Albertan government implemented the Climate Leadership Plan, a new mitigation tactic to transition away from harmful forms of energy, and promote the growth of their oil industry. With the impacts of global warming at an all time high, Alberta needed to take preventive measures of their resources, while still allowing for their staple economy to thrive. Alberta as a state, must strive to sustainably manage their resources whilst promoting economic growth, sustaining job security, and planning goals to protect their residents and the surrounding environment. This climate leadership plan was not an easy task to implement, because as a state you have to create a population that supports your idea and a culture that fosters facilitation of co-management between the energy industry and the environmental community.

Before this new legislation, Alberta’s infamous coal industry, accounted for almost 55% of Alberta’s electricity and about 16% of Alberta’s total greenhouse gas emissions, all from a whopping 18 generating plants. After the Paris Agreement, many provinces are trying to do their part to reduce emissions by the agreed year, 2030. This new leadership plan proposes to close all coal-fired power plants by the year 2030, set up a carbon tax that will reach $30/tonnes by 2018, reduce methane emissions by 45% by 2025, divest from fossil fuels into solar and wind, and add about 5,000 megawatts into their renewable energy program. This leadership plan is also revenue neutral, meaning that 100% of the revenue will be re-invested into green infrastructure, reducing pollution, investing in sustainable methods of transportation. However, the main concern with this plan is that Alberta set a cap on oil sand emissions to 100 megatonnes per year, which is almost a 47% increase from the oil sand emissions released in 2014, as a way facilitating the growth of their oil industry. Setting the allowable limit of emissions to such a large margin from what currently is, contradicts what a “climate” leadership should represent.

With the plummet of the oil market resulting in the loss of tens of thousands of Albertan jobs, the climate leadership plan sounds like a great way to create more jobs, and a more sustainable method of energy, however this is not the case. President-elect Donald Trump’s economic plan will definitely put a strain on this target. Trump believes in “clean coal”, and has proposed to eliminate emission regulations and lower business taxes, which will make the U.S. manufacturing industries far more competitive than Canada’s. As a result Alberta’s emissions will grow towards its cap, which will lead to an increase of 45% in bitumen production and a 47% increase in emissions. Upon further analysis, climate leadership plan may appear to be an inefficient method in managing carbon emissions. 



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Philly, this is a very interesting topic, and a good article that you chose, as recently there have been many plans to increase Canada's 'efforts' toward mitigating our countries greenhouse gas emissions (specifically carbon). The projected and current ramifications of climate change have driven countries responsible for high emissions (Canada is one of them) to not only seek alternatives for energy but also limit the emissions that will still be around for the time being (as you have stated above about oil production). This new legislation is not only ambitious when looking at Canada's history in terms of climate change initiatives, but what is concerning is the "cap on oil sand emissions to 100 mega-tonnes per year, which is almost a 47% increase from the oil sand emissions released in 2014" is a way of oil companies to be able to emit more if they want, as well as under emit for a profit as they would sell that to another polluter.

Allocating and allowing more emissions than necessary for a climate change mitigation strategy is not only futile, but as you have stated above that it is an 'inefficient method in managing carbon emissions' as well as a failure of the province's role in environmental management. It makes one wonder how this would be able to occur within legislation that's main goal is to decrease emissions, but allows for more pollution and release of Co2 by one of the heaviest emitters in our country. Overall, I agree with your stance on this issue, and need to focus less on pleasing 'big oil' but rather 'strive to sustainable manage their resources whilst promoting economic growth, sustaining job security, and planning goals to protect their residents and the surrounding environment'.