One of Canada’s leading clean energy organizations is praising Alberta’s effort to cut its greenhouse gas emissions and diversify its energy economy, even as a retired fossil executive critiques the strategy as an “uncertain plan that will see emissions increase.”
In the Calgary Herald, Clean Energy Canada’s Dan Woynillowicz argues that Alberta is “on the brink of setting its own energy destiny. The province is working to dramatically increase renewable electricity sources to replace coal-fired power, which the government aims to phase out by 2030.”
He adds that “the goal is ambitious. The timeline is aggressive. And some are wondering if the province is moving too fast. But moving forward on renewables now is not only bold, it is practical—if Alberta wants to forge its future as an energy leader.”
That future, Woynillowicz says, will be built on “the engineering capacity and renewable energy potential to capitalize on these trends—and create new jobs and revenue streams in the process. Every 150 MW of wind energy capacity built represents $316 million in new investment,” while “every solar project of that scale creates 2,000 full-time construction jobs.”
But on iPolitics, columnist Ross Belot notes that the province’s plan will “allow emissions to drift upwards by almost 20% over 2005 levels, more than 50% over 1990 levels, by 2030. This, the report’s authors tell us, makes Alberta ‘a leader in action on climate change.’” Much of the revenue from the province’s new carbon levy through 2018 will subsidize large emitters that would otherwise face competition from jurisdictions with less stringent emission regulations.
And while the plan includes a first-ever limit on carbon emissions from the Alberta tar sands/oil sands, the cap is set at 100 megatonnes per year—a 33% increase from today’s tally of about 75 Mt.
“The fact that we’re celebrating an uncertain plan that will see emissions increase should disappoint us all,” Belot writes. “But that’s politics. Premier [Rachel] Notley is probably doing the best she can, given the conditions she has to work with.”