On August 14, 2015, Alberta Environment and Parks released its Climate Leadership Discussion Document (Discussion Document) as part of the province’s ongoing efforts to design a comprehensive action plan on climate change. As discussed in our earlier blog, the Alberta government announced in June 2015 that it was taking steps to achieve real, demonstrable reductions in the province’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by tightening its existing GHG regulation, the Specified Gas Emitters Regulation and appointing an advisory panel (Advisory Panel) to undertake a comprehensive review of Alberta’s climate change policy.

The Discussion Document is intended to lay the foundation for Alberta’s Climate Leadership Discussions and articulates the province’s new approach to climate change as follows:

  • commitment to protect the health of Albertans and the ecosystem;
  • making a significant and meaningful contribution to Canada’s greenhouse gas reduction commitments and the global effort to mitigate climate change;
  • ensuring the continued strength and competitiveness of the province’s economy in a lower carbon world;
  • advancing innovation, encouraging adoption of new technologies and supporting more renewable and cleaner sources of energy and conservation;
  • acknowledging the interactions and coordinate with other related policy initiatives, including the royalty review, land use plans, infrastructure planning and investment;
  • providing open and transparent monitoring and regular reporting to Albertans on progress toward emissions reductions;
  • fostering partnerships with municipalities, provinces, territories, the federal government and First Nations and Métis communities; and
  • ensuring Albertans are engaged and part of the solution.

The Discussion Document provides a detailed profile of Alberta’s GHG emissions along with a discussion of the range of possible climate change goals and objectives. In addition, the Discussion Paper describes possible approaches to emission reductions including carbon taxes, cap and trade, performance standards and carbon offsets. Industry-specific approaches are also discussed, including policy approaches for the oil and gas, electricity, and transportation sectors as well as opportunities for energy efficiency in building and houses. Each section is followed up by a series of “Conversation Starters” to facilitate discussion and debate. Policy approaches in other sectors including manufacturing, construction, agriculture, forestry and waste management are also highlighted for discussion.

The Advisory Panel is responsible for guiding public and stakeholder engagement processes. After consideration of public and stakeholder input, as well the interaction of environmental, social and economic factors with related policies, the Advisory Panel will provide its recommendations and advice to the Minister of Environment and Parks in fall 2015. Stakeholders and members of the public are encouraged to get involved by participating in public consultation meetings and taking the online survey.