Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Advisory Group Recommends Penalties for Heavy Oilsands Emitters If Cap Hit

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Advisory Group Recommends Penalties for Heavy Oilsands Emitters If Cap Hit

Article excerpt

Advisory group sets out oilsands cap measures


CALGARY - Oilsands producers could face steep fines and suspended projects if industry comes close to hitting a mandated 100-megatonne limit under recommendations proposed by Alberta's Oil Sands Advisory Group.

But the non-binding report sets out a series of policies options to help avoid reaching that point, including requiring the use of better technology, setting out emissions management plans and costs, and improved regulations.

Advisory group co-chair Dave Collyer said the increased emissions reporting and forecasting in the near-term will help to achieve the lower emissions-intensity goal.

"That transparency and awareness, in fact, does drive behavioural change," Collyer said.

"So there's a whole suite of recommendations that I characterize as more in the carrot category, to try and create the right environment to drive the behaviours."

The penalties for industry would only kick in when industry looks to be within a year of hitting the cap. The penalties could include forcing those with higher-than-average emissions intensity to reduce them or face fines proposed at $200 a tonne of carbon. The government could also suspend projects that haven't started construction.

Collyer said that while the plan could hit higher emitters, it's just part of where global expectations on climate action are headed.

"People have to accept that in the world we're likely to be in, carbon intensity matters. And if you're on the wrong part of the carbon curve, you're going to be disadvantaged. It's the same way as being on the wrong part of the cost curve."

Wildrose Leader Brian Jean said in a statement that giving the government authority to suspend projects would further chill investment in the oil and gas sector, and is a clear cap on economic growth.

Collyer said when the cap might be reached is much debated, but there is a general sense that under business the oilsands would hit the cap by about 2030, or somewhere around four million barrels a day. …

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