Alberta has introduced tougher greenhouse gas rules for large emitters and appointed an advisory panel to conduct a more in-depth, three-month review of provincial climate policy.
The revisions to the Special Gas Emitters Regulations (SGER), which were set to expire June 30, apply to facilities that pump out at least 100,000 tonnes of carbon pollution per year. Until now, the regulations required companies to reduce or offset their emissions by 12% or pay $15 per tonne into a provincial technology fund. The revision sets the emission reduction target at 15% for 2016 and 20% for 2017 and increases the excess emissions fee to $20 per tonne in 2016 and $30 in 2017.
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The advisory panel, led by Dr. Andrew Leach of the University of Alberta, “will meet with Albertans over the next three months and examine how the province can lead on the issue of climate change,” the National Observer reports. “The government in a news release said it is taking these steps to demonstrate its commitment to leadership on climate change, with a goal of having a preliminary proposal ready in time for the COP21 world summit in Paris at year-end.”
Clean Energy Canada Policy Director Dan Woynillowicz said the announcement “sends a clear and critical message to industry and Albertans: This is a first step; expect more robust climate action to follow.” Pembina Institute Executive Director Ed Whittingham called the announcement “a first step toward establishing a more credible climate strategy in Alberta and acknowledged the new government’s “quick and decisive action.”
But “it will take more than the changes announced today for Alberta to credibly do its part to tackle climate change,” Whittingham said. “Reducing overall emissions from the oil and gas sector, accelerating the phase-out of coal-fired electricity, increasing the supply of renewable energy, and promoting energy efficiency are all important aspects of developing a climate change strategy of which Albertans can be proud.”
The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) said the new SGER rules, combined with the province’s recent corporate tax increase, will cost the industry nearly $800 million over the next two years. But “CAPP said that Canada’s oil sands producers are prepared to take a greater leadership role on climate action as part of the growing global intention to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” Mandel writes. “We developed the technology to get the oil out of the sand, and we are just as committed to getting our carbon out of the air,” said CAPP President Tim McMillan.
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