Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Alberta Tweaks Greenhouse Gas Rules, Promises More Substantive Changes Ahead

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Alberta Tweaks Greenhouse Gas Rules, Promises More Substantive Changes Ahead

Article excerpt

Alberta tweaks greenhouse gas reduction rules

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EDMONTON - The Alberta government has tweaked its greenhouse gas reduction rules now with a promise of a complete policy on reducing climate change-causing emissions a few months down the road.

"Some will argue that we aren't going far enough on these issues," NDP Environment Minister Shannon Phillips said Thursday. "I say to them we are serious about making progress.

"Some will argue we are moving too far and too fast. I say to them that more of the same would be the worst thing we could do for our energy economy and for the future of our province."

The new policy leaves intact the previous government's policy of taxing carbon based on production levels, often referred to as carbon intensity. That means even under Thursday's changes, the province's total emissions are unlikely to fall for years.

"It's very challenging to imagine absolute emissions peaking and coming down in the next five years," said Ed Whittingham of the clean energy think-tank the Pembina Institute, who was at the podium with Phillips.

Large emitters will now be expected to cut their emissions by 20 per cent per unit of production by 2017. That's significantly higher than the current expectation of 12 per cent. The cost of any emissions that exceed their allotment will double by 2017 to $30 a tonne.

That fine only applies to carbon dioxide releases over the allowed level. The real price of carbon emissions in Alberta will only rise to about $6, said Phillips, or between 30 and 45 cents per barrel of bitumen -- far lower than what most economists believe is needed to drive absolute cuts.

Government estimates suggest that will reduce emissions by about five megatonnes compared to what they would have been under the current policy. Alberta currently releases about 267 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent a year.

But Phillips also announced a sweeping review of all of Alberta's climate change measures, to be conducted together with an energy royalty review. …

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