May 27, 2002

Alberta plan sets 50% reduction target in GHG emissions intensity by 2020

A draft plan for dealing with climate change sets a reduction target for Alberta of 50% in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions intensity by 2020. This target is to be achieved through a combination of negotiated agreements with specific economic sectors, initiatives to increase funding in environmental and energy technologies, energy conservation, and a mix of other programs to manage and offset GHG emissions.

Provincial Environment Minister Lorne Taylor, who presented the plan at last week's meeting of environment and energy ministers in Charlottetown, PEI, said his government's approach "clearly shows that Kyoto is not the only answer to the climate change question.

"It is time to shift our thinking from sharing the burden between the provinces, to sharing the opportunity. Alberta's plan capitalizes on the opportunities," he added.

Taylor acknowledged that the Kyoto Protocol has been good for generating global awareness of, and attention to, the issue of climate change. The world has changed since the Protocol was first conceived, however, and Canada can now do something much better and more effective to address climate change, he said. Alberta's draft action plan can serve as a model for other similar provincial and territorial action plans, and as a basis for a true national plan, he added.

Albertans & Climate Change: A Plan for Action sets out initiatives and actions in the areas of: emissions reductions (targets and timetables); government leadership; energy conservation; carbon management; technology and innovation; enhancing carbon sinks; and adapting to climate change. Setting a provincial emissions target and timetable.

The emissions target of 50% reduction in emissions intensity (i.e. emissions relative to GDP) by 2020 will apply to all provincial sources of GHG emissions. Separate emissions reduction targets will be negotiated in agreements with key economic sectors, including electricity, oil and gas, transportation, forestry, other industries, and municipalities. The just-announced mandatory emissions reporting program for large sources will be part of the plan as well (ELW May 20). For Alberta-based consumption, this works out to about 10% below 1990 levels.

The plan further calls for Alberta to strive to be "best-in-class" both in reducing emissions intensity of energy exports, and emissions from Alberta-based industrial and consumer activity. Over the longer term (i.e. through to 2050), the plan commits the province to moving towards more significant emission reductions in order to meet the goal of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change-preventing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases from reaching dangerous levels.

Another key component of the plan is the development of a "made-in-Alberta" approach to emissions trading. Such a system will be designed to respond to the province's own needs and circumstances and to complement the negotiated sectoral agreements while working within national and international models.

Increased investment will be directed toward developing and deploying greenhouse gas-related technology. Working in partnership with other governments and the private sector, the province will:

* support the development of new technologies through the Energy Research Strategy developed by the Alberta Energy Research Institute (AERI). Details of this strategy, including specifics on funding, will be made public shortly.

* implement provincial fuel cell strategy through demonstration projects.

* invest in a hydrocarbon research program (through support for the Canadian Clean Power Coalition and the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Chair in Coal Combustion).

* support specific key programs for technology development in environmental management and GHG emission control and reduction.

A Plan for Action further calls for the province to enhance its own internal efforts to conserve energy and implement best practices aimed at the reducing GHG emissions from its own operations. This will include, but not be limited to:

* reducing emissions from government activities and facilities by 26% by 2005.

* supporting energy retrofit programs in government facilities.

* purchasing hybrid vehicles for the government fleet.

* moving to the use of more green power for government facilities.

* establishing an "innovation fund" for leadership in reducing emissions within government.

As energy consumption is one of the leading drivers of GHG emissions, a key goal of Alberta's plan is to reduce energy use and change behaviour patterns and practices in this domain. Specific plan initiatives include:

* supporting and working with Climate Change Central to establish an Office for Energy Efficiency to lead consumer-related initiatives and programs aimed at promoting and encouraging energy conservation by all Albertans.

* developing and implementing a municipal building audit program.

* establishing a provincial task force to seek out opportunities to encourage energy conservation activities.

* implementing a province-wide energy conservation awareness campaign and public education strategy.

* supporting education and awareness programs aimed at promoting and rewarding energy conservation practices.

The government is already making available two new publications containing information on how individuals and small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) can reduce energy consumption and take action on climate change. Albertans & Climate Change: What can individual Albertans do? and Albertans & Climate Change: What can owners of small/medium sized business do? are available by calling 780/427-6267, or on-line at www.gov.ab.ca/env.

In the area of carbon management, Alberta will:

* implement a carbon management program.

* conduct three demonstration projects (Enhanced Oil Recovery and Coal Bed Methane) by end of 2003.

* continue support for the CO2 storage demonstration project at Weyburn, Sask.

The province will also focus more attention on carbon sinks, exploring the use of forestry and agricultural sinks to determine in particular how they can be used as offsets and traded in emission trading. Other initiatives in this area include:

* developing provincial accounting rules and guidelines for crediting carbon storage projects.

* clarifying ownership rules around credits for sinks.

* suprorting and investing in programs aimed at measuring natural storage of carbon.

Another section of the plan addresses climate change adaptation. Alberta will work with other governments and organizations to help Albertans understand the potential impacts, invest in research in this area, and help Albertans manage and address the risks of short-term climate variability and extremes as required.

The plan will form the basis of consultations to be held with stakeholders and the general public this spring and summer. The government will be looking for feedback on a number of the strategies proposed in the plan, including emission reduction levels, sectoral agreements, the most advantageous energy conservation measures for Alberta, and whether the province should set up its own emissions trading system. A finalized version of the plan is expected by December 2002.

A complete copy of the plan, Albertans & Climate Change: A Plan for Action, as well as a summary Albertans & Climate Change: Making a Difference, may be obtained by calling 780/427-6267, or on-line at www.gov.ab.ca/env. More information is available from Val Mellesmoen, director of communications for Alberta Environment, 780/427-6267, or Robert Moyles, assistant director, 780/427-1428.

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