CALGARY – The Alberta government is seeking feedback on its plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions from big industrial players.
The province’s environment, energy and agriculture ministers are meeting with 150 stakeholders over the next three days in Calgary. That includes representatives of the oil and gas, chemicals, mining and agriculture industries, among others.
Albertans can also weigh in online until Aug. 2.
Environment Minister Jason Nixon said they’ll be discussing how the proposed Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction program should be designed.
“We know that managing emissions is part of a responsible energy development program, and we also know that rushing into failed ideological experiments hurts ordinary Albertans,” Nixon said of the previous NDP government’s Climate Leadership Plan, which included an economy-wide carbon levy that applied to consumers.
The United Conservative government’s proposed plan would apply to facilities that emit more than 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. Those operations account for half of Alberta’s emissions, Nixon said.
Under the plan, they would have to reduce their emissions intensity — a per-unit, rather than overall measurement that would allow plants to increase output — by 10 per cent compared to their average levels between 2016 and 2018.
The proposed program allows for credits and offsets to be used, and emitters can also comply by paying into a clean technology fund.
Nixon said the plan has similarities to the approach of past Progressive Conservative governments.
“I don’t see much different in some of the intent of what was done in the past, but I would think the intensity of what we’re talking about and the volume and the amount of money we’re talking about investing is significantly more than what had been done in the past.”
Nixon said he’s all for renewable energy, but the UCP government won’t use taxpayer dollars to subsidize it.
Simon Dyer, executive director of the Pembina Institute think tank, said his group was not among those invited to take part in workshops this week.
The group has a long history collaborating with industry and government on environmental issues, but has found itself in Premier Jason Kenney’s crosshairs as his government cracks down on oil and gas critics.
“Good public policy includes all stakeholders in the room and clearly we have the expertise and the ability to represent the public interest,” Dyer said. “That is a concern if regulations for industry are going to be decided by industry alone.”
Dyer said it would seem the UCP proposal would only serve to penalize the cleanest producers and result in fewer emissions reductions overall compared to the old plan.
NDP MLA Deron Bilous said the UCP is taking Alberta backwards to a failed model that rewarded a “race to the bottom.”
Alberta would have seen $10 billion in new renewable investment over 10 years under the now-defunct NDP plan, Bilous added.
“Alberta was the hottest market in Canada and one of the hottest markets in North America,” he said. “We are now a laggard and investment is going elsewhere.”