Ever have one of those days when all the assumptions you had about an issue turned upside down? Today is one of those days.

Addressing climate change in Canada has long been an intractable problem. This is because, despite the slowly transforming economies and declining carbon pollution emissions in Ontario, Quebec and B.C., Alberta’s emissions were growing at a breakneck pace and wiping out the reductions happening everywhere else. As a result Canadian governments were left with two options: deny or avoid the problem, or force change on Alberta.

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Needless to say previous federal governments have consistently chosen door one.

But today’s climate change announcement in Alberta could change all that forever. The new plan will:

  • Cap the carbon emissions from the tar sands at 100 MT and eventually force them to decline
  • Close the fleet of coal electricity plants by 2030, drastically reducing both deadly local air pollution and also massive amounts of carbon emissions
  • Increase the amount of renewable electricity on the grid to 30% by the same year
  • See Alberta join with Ontario, Quebec and B.C. in putting a price on carbon pollution. Alberta’s price will start at $20/year in 2017, rise to $30 in 2018 and then rise annually. Money from the fee will be invested in programs to further reduce carbon emissions and help to ensure that price increases don’t harm citizens with limited income
  • Significantly reduce waste methane emissions from oil and gas wells that are also important causes of climate change

This is a historic moment for Alberta and Canada. This is a commitment to tangible and aggressive climate action and we all should applaud Alberta for this huge change in direction.

Based on this announcement, Alberta’s carbon pollution should soon peak and start to decline. This is a fundamental pivot after years of uncontrolled carbon emissions growth and it removes one of the largest barriers to developing a meaningful Canadian climate strategy.

This announcement also sets Alberta on a path toward diversifying its economy and recognizing that a global transition away from fossil fuels is essential if the world as we know it is to survive. The money collected from a new price on carbon pollution can be invested in more energy efficient homes and businesses, new clean technology and renewable energy jobs.

With this move from Alberta, there is now nothing standing in the federal government’s way of developing a credible climate strategy and following Alberta’s lead by setting a limit on carbon pollution in Canada. Canada can now move ahead and fulfill its promise to cut carbon pollution in line with global science-based targets.

Today’s announcement is very good news for Albertans and Canadians. It will help protect us all from dangerous climate change, set the scene for Canada to restore our good name, and places the country and the province in a solid position to harness the opportunities for growth in a clean economy.

This is the beginning of something new, folks. I am looking forward to a new Canada on the stage in Paris at the U.N. climate negotiations.

 

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