Notley pledges to 'step up' on climate change ahead of First Ministers' meeting
Published Sunday, November 22, 2015 1:15PM EST
Last Updated Sunday, November 22, 2015 4:53PM EST
With the First Ministers meeting on Monday, and the UN climate summit in Paris quickly approaching, Alberta announced its long-awaited climate change report on Sunday, signifying a dramatic shift in provincial policy.
At a press conference Sunday, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said that her province is going to stop being part of the "problem" and start being part of the "solution."
"This is the day we step up at long last to one of the world's biggest problems," she said.
Notley said that the "frontline" in the struggle against climate change is "right here in Alberta."
With representatives from the province's energy sector in attendance, such as Suncor, Shell and Cenovus, Notley promised to make several drastic changes including:
- Implementing an "accelerated phase out of coal" by 2030.
- Replacing lost power with two-thirds renewable energy and one-third natural gas.
- Introducing a carbon tax starting at $20 per tonne in 2017, and jumping to $30 per tonne next year.
- Placing a 100-megaton cap on oil sands emissions.
- Reducing methane emissions.
- Implementing an "energy efficiency program."
"Alberta gets things done, and we are going to get this done by working together by building a better environmental and economic future for us all," she said.
Notley added that revenue from the carbon tax will be put towards an "adjustment fund" to help individuals, families, small businesses first nations and the coal industry cope with the changes. She also said that the revenue will also be looked at as a way to pay off the province's debt.
Notley's announcement comes in advance of several major events where climate change is expected to take the centre stage, including Monday's First Ministers' meeting and the UN climate summit in Paris at the end of the month.
Earlier Sunday, New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant said that First Ministers' meeting will be "a good start" to show Canadians that they are ready to seriously combat climate change.
Speaking to Robert Fife on CTV's Question Period on Sunday, Gallant said all of the provinces and territories have their own respective plans and targets to tackle climate change.
Monday’s Ottawa meeting, where they will be joined later in the day by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, will be an opportunity to coordinate those plans and share best practices, he said. Trudeau’s presence will be the first time since 2009 that the group meets with the prime minister.
A week later, the prime minister will head to the UN climate summit in Paris.
Trudeau is hoping to reach an agreement for a national climate plan, with all of the provinces and territories buying in. On the to-do list:
- To cut greenhouse gas emissions, with provincial autonomy
- Put a price on carbon
- Phase out fossil fuel subsidies
- Adopt tougher assessments for pipeline projects
Gallant wouldn't say if setting emissions targets before the Paris meeting was possible, but he did say that the meeting was an opportunity to send a new message to Canadians and the international community.
But the First Ministers' meeting, with its heavy focus on the environment, comes as the country faces tough economic conditions, largely due to falling oil and gas prices.
And with the recent rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline by U.S. President Barack Obama, all eyes are now focused on the Energy East pipeline.
Gallant said the Energy East pipeline will help bring the oil industry's products to market, while creating thousands of jobs, and increased investment in infrastructure.
If approved and built, Energy East would stretch from the Alberta oilsands to New Brunswick, and will transport as much as 1.1 million barrels of oil a day.
"We have to diversify our approach, and in my opinion, we have to grow the economy across the country, as well as in New Brunswick," Gallant said. "That includes ensuring we support the energy industry, which is incredibly important for my province, and the country as a whole."
During the election campaign, Trudeau said he wouldn't fully support Energy East until more public consultations are held to address environmental concerns.
The premier said the New Brunswick government has no problem letting the regulatory process unfold.
"We certainly have no problem with looking at improving any process when it comes to environmental protections, but we also want to see this project happen," he said.