Today the Alberta government announced important changes to current climate change legislation, the Specified Gas Emitters Regulation (SGER). The government has stated that it would renew the SGER, which was set to expire on June 30th, with the following changes:

  • Previously an owner of a facility that emitted 100,000 tonnes or more of greenhouse gases in a year was required to reduce the emissions intensity of that facility by a maximum of 12 percent. With today's announcement, the maximum emissions intensity reduction requirement will be increased to 15 percent from and after January 1, 2016, and then to 20 percent from and after January 1, 2017.
  • To comply with the emissions intensity requirements under the SGER, facility owners may, in addition to physically abating greenhouse gas emissions, purchase: 1. Alberta-based emission offsets; 2. emission performance credits; or 3. technology fund credits (or any permutation of the foregoing). While emission offsets and emission performance credits may be purchased in an open market, technology fund credits may only be purchased from the government at the prescribed price set under the SGER. The prior price was $15/tonne. The cost of technology fund credits will be increased to $20/tonne for 2016 and to $30/tonne for 2017.

The government emphasized that today's announced changes to the SGER are part of a larger effort towards arriving at a comprehensive climate change strategy.

The government has appointed an advisory panel, chaired by Dr. Andrew Leach of the University of Alberta, to conduct a comprehensive review of current policy, consult with stakeholders, and make recommendations for further measures. The advisory panel is to report by the Fall. Its mandate is to examine carbon emissions on a broad scale and not just those currently regulated under the SGER.

The advice of the panel will be considered by the government in its development of a new provincial climate change strategy. The timing for completion of such new strategy has not been set definitively by today's announcement; however, the government indicates a goal of making further policy announcements in time for the COP21 climate change summit in Paris at the end of 2015.