Alberta will set emissions regulations
Guy Boutilier announced last week that he hopes to start by this September on regulations to enable the government to impose limits perhaps as early as next year. Details of the plan are still unclear, but it will focus on heavy industry. It will require more conservative emissions reductions than under the Kyoto regime, and these will be spread over a longer period of time.
The Globe and Mail reports an Environment Department spokesperson as stating the province is looking to set goals for reducing emissions intensity for industries. For oil sands projects, for example, firms would need to reduce emissions per unit of barrel output.
Emissions intensity has actually improved in the oil sands over the last decade, with a 26% reduction in C02 output per barrel since 1994. Emissions per barrel have remained relatively stable or declined slightly over the past six years, according to a report from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.
However, despite the improvements in energy efficiency and technology, gross emissions from oil sands production have continued to rise.
Dr. Marlo Raynolds of the Pembina Institute believes that “There is an urgent need for regulated targets for the 50% of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions that come from heavy industry,” but cautions that “the environment doesn’t care about intensity targets.”
Alberta says its legislation will be the toughest in the country, with separate targets for sectors such as oil and gas, power utilities, mining firms, and cement producers. Industry officials have been involved in various government initiatives on air pollution and climate change, which includes the Clean Air Strategic Alliance (CASA), a multi-stakeholder group.
The provincial government has a well-defined climate-change strategy based on intensity, committing to cutting emissions relative to the GDP to 50% below 1990 levels by 2020 – around a 60 million ton reduction in greenhouse gases below “business as usual”, says the Ministry of Energy. This growth-flexible target will presumably allow continued expansion of oil sands operations, with a reduction in emissions intensity, a goal that industry considers feasible and appropriate but that may lead to increased total emissions.
Other provinces are also developing their own climate change plans, with Quebec recently declaring that it will meet its targets under the Kyoto Protocol despite an indication that the federal government does not intend to meet national targets.