Reports of possible federal and provincial climate change policies continue to dominate the media in advance of the upcoming 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 21) to be held in Paris from November 30th to December 11th. With Alberta’s Climate Change Advisory Panel (Climate Panel) having completed its public consultation and many industry leaders encouraging Alberta to take action on climate change to improve Alberta’s environmental image, it is not surprising that Premier Rachel Notley and Environment Minister Shannon Phillips are making some of that news.
If the statements made by Rachel Notley this past Thursday in Toronto at the Broadbent Institute Progress Gala are any indication, an even higher Alberta levy on carbon is likely as are policies that encourage a shift from coal-fired power generation to lower-carbon natural gas and zero-carbon renewables. The Premier’s statements were consistent with Minister Phillips comments earlier this week that she would soon announce policies intended to “phase-out coal-fired electricity and phase in more renewables”.
The Alberta Government has promised to disclose its climate change strategy before heading to Paris. Perhaps this will happen before or when Premier Notley attends a first ministers’ meeting on climate change called by Prime Minister Trudeau for November 23rd.
Many renewable power project developers do not believe that increasing the cost of carbon will, by itself, be enough to encourage the scope of renewable power project development needed for Alberta. Yes, putting a price on carbon will indirectly increase the power pool prices received by renewable generators and the value of the emission offsets they generate and market to Alberta’s large emitters. However, if large renewable power projects are going to be financed by developers over a long term, something more price certain is likely to be required.
The “Climate Leadership Discussion Document” issued when the Advisory Panel was struck mentioned some of that “more” that might be done, including a feed-in-tariff, green power call, subsidies and tax-credits, government-backed loan or power purchase agreements and renewable portfolio standards. All of which are cards that have been played to varying degrees of success by other governments around the world. Though Premier Notley may have tipped her climate change hand in Toronto at the Broadbent Gala, we may know in the next few weeks if any of these other more activist cards are also in that hand to be played in Alberta.