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Alberta introduces carbon tax and climate plan


November 25, 2015
By Cindy Macdonald


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Alberta has announced a “Climate Leadership Plan” that accelerates the transition from coal to renewable electricity sources, puts a price on carbon pollution for everyone, and sets emissions limits for the oil sands.

Other measures include broad programs to improve energy efficiency, support green technological innovations, reduce methane, and provide supports to ensure that families and small businesses are protected.

“Responding to climate change is about doing what’s right for future generations of Albertans – protecting our jobs, health and the environment,” said Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, when introducing the plan. “It will help us access new markets for our energy products, and diversify our economy with renewable energy and energy efficiency technology. Alberta is showing leadership on one of the world’s biggest problems, and doing our part.”

The plan is based on the advice of the Climate Change Advisory Panel, led by Dr. Andrew Leach, which heard from thousands of individual Albertans and stakeholder groups this fall.

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On the advice of leaders from our energy industry and from civil society, the government will legislate an overall oil sands emissions limit. Notley says this measure is expected to promote the growth of technology to reduce the industry’s carbon output per barrel.

Alberta’s plan includes achievable carbon pollution reduction measures, while using revenues from the plan to help Alberta adapt and thrive in a lower-carbon economy.

Alberta will phase out all pollution created by burning coal and transition to more renewable energy and natural gas generation by 2030. Two-thirds of coal-generated electricity will be replaced by renewables – primarily wind power – while natural gas generation will continue to provide firm base load reliability. Renewable energy sources will comprise up to 30 per cent of Alberta’s electricity production by 2030.

Alberta will phase in carbon pricing in two steps: $20/tonne economy-wide in January 2017, and $30/tonne economy-wide in January 2018. An overall oil sands emission limit of 100 megatonnes will be set, with provisions for new upgrading and co-generation. According to the government, 100 per cent of proceeds from carbon pricing will be reinvested in Alberta.

A portion of collected revenues will be invested directly into measures to reduce pollution, including clean energy research and technology; green infrastructure, such as public transit; and, programs to help Albertans reduce their energy use.

Other revenues will be invested in an adjustment fund that will help individuals and families make ends meet; provide transition support to small businesses, First Nations, and people working in affected coal facilities.