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Environment

Alberta seeks feedback on greenhouse gas emissions reduction plan

April 12: The United Conservative Party in Alberta is promising to cut the carbon tax as it vies for votes during that province's election. As Heather Yourex-West explains, the candidates have very different climate change plans, but mishandling this could have major consequences.

The Alberta government is seeking feedback on its plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions from big industrial players.

The province’s environment, energy and agriculture ministers are meeting with 150 stakeholders over the next three days in Calgary. That includes representatives of the oil and gas, chemicals, mining and agriculture industries, among others.

The Pembina Institute, an environmental think tank, said it was not invited to participate in this week’s workshops.

Albertans can also weigh in online until Aug. 2.

READ MORE: New natural gas plants will have to pay carbon tax on all emissions

Environment Minister Jason Nixon said they’ll be discussing how the proposed Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction program should be designed.

“We know that managing emissions is part of a responsible energy development program, and we also know that rushing into failed ideological experiments hurts ordinary Albertans,” Nixon said of the previous NDP government’s Climate Leadership Plan, which included an economy-wide carbon levy that applied to consumers.

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The United Conservative government’s proposed plan would apply to facilities that emit more than 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. Those operations account for half of Alberta’s emissions, Nixon said.

READ MORE: Kenney government launches inquiry into foreign-funded groups that criticize Alberta’s oil industry

Under the plan, they would have to reduce their emissions intensity — a per-unit, rather than overall measurement that would allow plants to increase output — by 10 per cent compared to their average levels between 2016 and 2018.

The proposed program allows for credits and offsets to be used, and emitters can also comply by paying into a clean technology fund.

READ MORE: Albertans will pay either provincial or federal carbon tax. Which will hurt less?

Nixon said the plan has similarities to the approach of past Progressive Conservative governments.

“I don’t see much different in some of the intent of what was done in the past, but I would think the intensity of what we’re talking about and the volume and the amount of money we’re talking about investing is significantly more than what had been done in the past.”

Nixon said he’s all for renewable energy, but the UCP government won’t use taxpayer dollars to subsidize it.

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NDP MLA Deron Bilous said the UCP is taking Alberta backwards to a failed model that rewarded a “race to the bottom.”

Alberta would have seen $10 billion in new renewable investment over 10 years under the now-defunct NDP plan, Bilous added.

“Alberta was the hottest market in Canada and one of the hottest markets in North America,” he said. “We are now a laggard and investment is going elsewhere.”

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