The Alberta Government released its new Climate Change Strategy 2008 on January 24, 2008. The Strategy envisages that Alberta will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent below "business as usual" levels and 14 percent below 2005 levels by 2050. The 50% reduction would amount to a 200-megatonne reduction.

The Strategy consists of three elements:

  • carbon capture and storage initiatives;
  • an increase in investment in clean energy technology; and
  • increases in conservation and energy efficiency initiatives.

Carbon Capture and Storage. The Alberta Government will form a government-industry council to establish specific ways to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by capturing air emissions from industrial sources and locking them permanently underground in deep rock formations. The council will respond to a federal-provincial task force report on carbon capture and storage and will develop a made-in-Alberta strategy for creating and adopting new technology. The Strategy notes that Alberta has the capacity to be a world leader in this developing area. Carbon capture technologies are intended to account for 70 percent of the planned 200-megatonne reduction.

Clean Energy Technology. The second element of the Government's Strategy is an increased investment in clean energy technologies and increases in the use of renewable and alternative energy sources such as bioenergy, solar power, wind power, hydrogen and geothermal energy. Alberta anticipates that 18 percent of its planned reductions will be accounted for through the use and implementation of these forms of clean energy technologies.

Conservation And Energy Efficiency. The final aspect of the Strategy states that 12 percent of Alberta's proposed emissions reductions are to come from conservation and energy efficiency. The Government will create consumer incentives which will be set out in a detailed plan to be released in the Spring

The Strategy was announced on the heels of an unfavourable report card issued by the Pembina Institute and the World Wildlife Fund Canada, which criticized the environmental record of various oilsands operators. Their report, titled Undermining the Environment: The Oilsands Report Card, stated that while emissions intensity has decreased, the actual amount of emissions is on the rise as a result of increases in overall energy production. Critics of Alberta's new climate change Strategy argue that Alberta's initiative is not aggressive enough and that it does not target overall reductions. However, industry players are commending the Alberta Government for taking a step in the right direction.

Industry groups have consistently expressed the view that it is imperative that the Alberta Government balance industry's ability to remain competitive with whatever plan it implements to address climate change. Industry has stated that it is willing to work with the Government in developing new technologies to address the issues of climate change in the Province.

The Alberta Strategy also shortly followed the release of a report from a body known as the ecoENERGY Carbon Capture and Storage Task Force, entitled Canada's Fossil Energy Future, on January 9, 2008. The report of this joint industry-government Task Force was addressed to the Alberta Minister of Energy and the federal Minister of Natural Resources and set out a number of recommendations as to what steps should be taken to begin implementing and testing new carbon capture and sequestration technology while balancing the financial and regulatory risks involved.

To review Alberta's new climate change plan, see:
 http://environment.alberta.ca/documents/Climate_Change_Strategy_2008_brochure.pdf

To read the government of Alberta's report entitled Alberta's Climate Change: Facts About Climate Change, see: http://environment.gov.ab.ca/info/library/7774.pdf

To read the ecoENERGY Carbon Capture and Storage Task Force report entitled Canada's Fossil Energy Future, see: 
http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/com/resoress/publications/fosfos/fosfos-eng.pdf

To access the report card issued by the Pembina Institute and the World Wildlife Fund Canada entitled Undermining the Environment: The Oilsands Report Card, see: http://pubs.pembina.org/reports/OS-Undermining-Final.pdf

See:  http://www.alberta.ca/acn/200801/22943ACC446ED-ED74-6A1E-6CF263E59920969B.html