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‘We don’t have a choice:’ Alberta environment minister promises climate action

WATCH ABOVE: Environment Minister Shannon Phillips says Alberta doesn’t have a choice but to take climate change action.

EDMONTON – Alberta’s environment minister has promised the province will improve its environmental performance.

Shannon Phillips told an audience at the Alberta Climate Summit in Edmonton Wednesday there is an appetite for climate change action in the province and the days of denial are over.

“We don’t have a choice in this matter. We have to refurbish our global reputation and we know we can,” said Phillips.

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Phillips promised Alberta will set emission reduction goals and meet those goals. Action is necessary because the province has already experienced impacts of climate change, said Phillips.

“Here in Alberta 80 per cent of our farmers this year have been hit with drought and crop insurance programs are expected to pay out nearly $1 billion in losses this year alone.”

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READ MORE: Alberta government is increasing CO2 reduction targets

Phillips is currently overseeing the development of a climate change policy to take to the United Nations Climate Change conference in Paris this fall.

READ MORE: Alberta Energy Regulator restricts river water use by oil sector, cites drought

The summit also heard from Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Chief Allan Adam who said the province has reached its limit on oilsands development in northeastern Alberta because of the impacts on the environment.

“I’m pretty optimistic that working with this new government, tried to implement some of the things that we see that could at least contribute to a better state than where we’re at right now,” said Adam.

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Wednesday’s conference was organized by the think-tank Pembina Institute in an effort to determine how Alberta can transition to a low-carbon economy.