Editor: It’s clear the Alberta government asked itself the wrong question and then, not surprisingly, failed to reach the right answer.
Is the task of a climate plan to ensure the oil and gas industry can do business (pretty much) as usual in the face of climate change? Or is it to take steps to reduce carbon emissions from our province and do our part to avoid global climate change induced chaos? If climate change is the challenge it seems undeniably to be, our task must be the latter and, if so, the Alberta government’s plan fails.
The provincial government has come up with a plan that – astonishingly – doesn’t reduce Alberta’s emissions from today’s extremely high levels. Indeed, even though coal is going to be eliminated as a fuel for generating electricity by 2030, because oil sands emissions are going to be allowed to grow by 43 per cent, Alberta’s overall GHG emissions will keep growing until they stabilize in 2030 at a level higher than today’s. That’s right – under the government’s plan Alberta’s emissions keep growing.
The challenge for Albertans is to change the way we think: the greatest hurdle we face in addressing the need to reduce our carbon emissions is not economic but psychological. It looks as if many of us are suffering from something like Stockholm Syndrome where hostages become so insecure and fearful they come to identify with their captors’ interests.
Many Albertans seem to believe we cannot break free of the forces that threaten our well-being and limit our economy. But we could break free, if public policy did not cater to the oil and gas industry in inappropriate ways.
If the government had adopted the carbon price recommended to it by the Pembina Institute, Albertans could have been proud of the resulting plan. The Institute wanted to see “a carbon price starting at $40 per tonne of CO2 emitted in 2016, with a schedule for increasing it by $10 per tonne annually over the first 10 years of the policy. This is generally the level of stringency necessary for Alberta to make a fair contribution to Canada’s international commitments.”
As it is, the government’s plan is another in a continuing series of embarrassments on the fossil fuel industry and carbon emissions front.
Leader, Green Party of Alberta