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Alberta’s Climate Change and Emissions Management Act [PDF] (CCEMA) and its key regulation – the Specified Gas Emitters Regulation [PDF] (SGER) – in place since 2007, creates an intensity-based limit on industrial GHG emissions by requiring certain industrial emitters to reduce their emissions intensity and seeks to reduce GHG emissions relative to the province’s GDP to 50%, or less than the province’s emissions levels as they stood in 1990. Specifically, the SGER adopted under the Act requires large emitters – those facilities that produce more than 100,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions per year – to reduce their baseline emissions intensity from July 1, 2007 by up to 20% in each compliance period. Regulated emitters may comply with this requirement in several ways including:

  • improvements in operations in the applicable period
  • emission offsets (earned through the removal or reduction of GHG emissions by way of an approved and non-legally required emission offset project in Alberta and verified by third-party verification procedures)
  • emission performance credits (earned by a reduction of GHG emissions lower than the emission limit in a previous compliance period and carried over into the period in which the earned credit is used)
  • fund credits paid into the Climate Change and Emissions Management Fund (which can currently be purchased in Alberta for $15 per tonne of GHG emissions and are an alternative to the bilateral trade in emission offsets)

Alberta’s emission offset projects must fit within one of the available emission offset project protocols, including those for biomass combustion projects and wind-powered electrical generation projects.

Fund credits paid to the fund are managed by the Climate Change and Emissions Management Corporation and are used to fund emission reduction technologies including the implementation of a carbon capture and storage system.

It is notable that the measure chosen under the CCEMA is “emissions intensity,” measuring GHG emissions per unit output, the result of which is that the Act does not place an absolute cap on the province’s aggregate emissions.

On June 25, 2015, the SGER was amended by, among other things:

  • requiring large industrial emitters to reduce their emissions by 20% starting in 2017 (with an interim increase in 2016 to 15%), instead of the previous 12%
  • doubling the cost of fund credits from $15 per tonne of GHG emissions to $30 per tonne by 2017 (with an interim increase to $20 in 2016)