Taking steps to tackle climate issues

Written by Shannon Phillips, MLA for Lethbridge-West.

First published in the Lethbridge Herald on May 27, 2016.

Climate Leadership Plan will help ensure cleaner air for Albertans

Tuesday was an important milestone for Alberta when we introduced the Climate Leadership Implementation Act to the Legislative Assembly. I wanted to share with you the speech I gave as I introduced Bill 20:

Last fall, Premier Notley joined with Albertans from all walks of life to set Alberta on a better course for our future. On that day, our province stepped up to challenge of one of the world’s biggest problems. On that day, following intensive consultations, Premier Notley announced the Climate Leadership Plan. The plan put Alberta at the forefront of energy and environmental leadership.

Climate change is real. It is caused by human activity. It affects us all. And it requires us to act.

The Climate Leadership legislation we introduced helps to fulfill the promise of the Climate Leadership Plan: a made-in-Alberta-strategy that focuses our response to climate change and the priorities of everyday families.

Under the plan, we are investing in new green infrastructure like public transit and we are establishing a new energy efficiency agency that will drive new technologies, add to our exports, and reduce costs for families.

Prior to last year’s election, Alberta was the only province in Canada without an energy efficiency program. The Act we are introducing changes that. Energy Efficiency Alberta will help Albertans save money on their energy bills by using energy more efficiently, reducing emissions in our homes and businesses.

The Climate Leadership Plan means our air will be cleaner and we will all be healthier. Alberta burns more coal than the rest of Canada combined, costing Albertans hundreds of millions of dollars each year in added health-care costs and lost productivity. By 2030 coal-powered emissions will be phased out and renewable energy will account for up to 30 per cent of our province’s electricity.

The Climate Leadership Plan means our energy industry will remain Alberta's and Canada's economic engine, creating thousands of jobs and economic opportunities. Alberta's energy industry is the bedrock of Alberta's economy and every Canadian benefits from a strong energy industry. The Climate Leadership Plan builds on Alberta's proud tradition of energy leadership and innovation. The people in our energy industry have the expertise, the know-how and the ambition to open up new markets, to reduce emissions, to build the energy industry of the future.

The Climate Leadership Plan means we can invest in green technology and infrastructure of tomorrow while protecting the family budget. Every penny raised by the carbon levy will be rebated to Albertans and reinvested in our economy. It will allow for us to invest billions of dollars in innovation, grow our renewable sector, diversify our economy and create thousands of new jobs.

And six in 10 Albertans will get their extra costs back with a full cash rebate. Beginning next year, single adults will receive cheques of up to $200 per year, depending on income. Couples will receive $300. Parents will receive an additional $30 per child under 18 for up to four children. The rebate stays the same regardless of how much energy Albertans use, providing an incentive to reduce emissions and keep more cash in your pocket.

It’s a win for our economy. It’s a win for our environment. It’s a win for all Albertans.

And it’s a win for future generations the young people who will be the inheritors of the decisions we make today.

With the tabling of the Climate Leadership Implementation Act, we are making a fundamental choice about the future of our province. For too long, governments in Alberta chose to ignore and deny the problem. Needless to say, the approach didn’t work. Now, with the debate about this legislation, some want to turn back the clock. They argue that now is not the time to take action on climate change. They argue it’s better to leave things as they are. Some even argue that climate change is not caused by humans.

But, friends, Alberta can’t move forward if we are stuck in the past. The cost of doing nothing is just too high today and for future generations. Doing nothing betrays our province’s tradition of leadership and innovation. Canada and the world look to Alberta to be a global energy and environmental leader. They look to us to show that a strong economy and a clean environment can and must go hand in hand to secure our quality of life.

The Climate Leadership Plan puts Alberta at the front of the pack where we belong:

  • Leading in the fight against climate change.
  • Leading on economic diversification and jobs.
  • Leading to reduce pollution and to protect the health of our children and all our communities.
  • Leading among the most progressive and environmentally-responsible energy producers anywhere in the world.

This legislation is the right thing to do today and for future generations.