October 28, 2002

Alberta climate change plan will reinforce sectoral reduction agreements with regulations

The final version of Alberta's action plan for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is longer on specifics than the draft released this past May (ELW May 27). It has, however, retained its original overall goal of achieving a 50% reduction in GHG emissions intensity, relative to 1990 levels, by 2020. This works out to about a 60-million-tonne reduction. (Emissions intensity is calculated by dividing actual emissions by gross domestic product.)

"Albertans told us we need more specific reduction targets, more focus on technology, renewable energy and consumer education, and strong regulations to back up reduction agreements with industry--and that's what we've included in this plan," said Alberta Environment Minister Lorne Taylor, who said the plan marks the beginning of a 50-year initiative to dramatically reduce carbon emissions in Alberta.

"A key element of our plan is a strong focus on partnerships and leveraged funding for emission reduction initiatives, in which the Alberta government will provide one dollar for every two dollars contributed by partners such as the federal government or the private sector," Taylor added.

The plan, titled Albertans and Climate Change: Taking Action, provides a comprehensive framework for cost-effective measures designed to reduce GHG emissions and foster lasting, more environmentally sound behaviour changes. The Alberta government will begin implementing the plan this fall. Funding details are expected to be finalized by the end of November.

Key aspects of the plan include:

*an interim reduction target of 22%, or 20 million tonnes, below "business as usual" by 2010.

*negotiation of firm emission reduction agreements with ten industry sectors (starting in November with the oil and gas sector); these will be backed up by a strict but fair regulatory framework to ensure that action is being taken.

*a strong focus on energy conservation and consumer education.

*support for initiatives led by Alberta's Climate Change Central, including its new Energy Solutions Alberta, a one-stop shop for information on energy efficiency and conservation.

*support for development of new technology and increased use of renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and hydro power.

The plan further calls for the government to challenge Alberta electricity retailers to make a minimum level of green power available to consumers. The province will seek to increase the amount of renewable/alternative energy available to the provincial power grid by 560 megawatts by 2008. As part of its internal effort, the government has set a goal of purchasing 10% of its own electricity from "green" sources when current contracts end.

Other innovative solutions outlined in the plan include: defining eligible GHG offsets; establishing and maintaining a registry for GHG offsets; setting a royalty credit for CO2 used for enhanced oil recovery; and developing a land use registry to track GHG emission reductions/removals.

Enhanced support for research and technology is another important part of the plan, and the government is committed to supporting Alberta Energy Research Institute's focus on reducing GHG emissions. In addition to investing in royalty credits for companies engaged in CO2 demonstration projects, the province says it will set up a fund for all sectors to support investments in technology deployment and energy conservation.

Continued improvement in the government's own GHG reduction efforts are part of the plan as well. Programs implemented in provincial operations have already achieved a 22% reduction in emissions, and these programs will continue. Other measures will include investing in innovative technologies that can be applied to government operations; supporting energy retrofits for schools; introducing a driver education program for government employees that encourages more fuel-efficient driving; and acquiring hybrid and other alternative fuel vehicles for government fleets.

Albertans and Climate Change: Taking Action may be viewed on-line at www.gov.ab.ca/env. More information is also available from Val Mellesmoen at Alberta Environment, 780/427-6267.

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