Climate Leadership Plan takes action on climate change and protects economy

By Oneil Carlier, MLA for Whitecourt-Ste. Anne and Minister of Agriculture & Forestry.

As the government of British Columbia approved Kinder Morgan’s pipeline, we are closer than ever to breaking our landlock and fixing a problem that has dogged our province for decades. And that wouldn’t have been possible without Alberta‘s Climate Leadership Plan, designed to take action on climate change and protect the province’s health, environment and economy.

This approval is another important step forward towards the completion of this critical project for the Canadian economy. We are getting closer to bringing Alberta‘s product to tidewater and this is good news for the communities of Whitecourt-Ste. Anne.

I do believe that Alberta and British Columbia share a commitment to creating jobs and economic opportunities for families as well as a deep environmental ethic. Working families shouldn’t have to choose between good jobs and the environment. World-class environmental standards and a strong economy that benefits working people must go hand-in-hand. Our province and economy need a made-in-Alberta solution to climate change. Not only is taking action the right thing to do, inaction runs the risk of policies or penalties being imposed on Alberta or on our products. Having a credible climate change policy improves our international reputation as an energy provider.

Energy wide carbon pricing is the most effective way to reduce emissions at the lowest total cost to the economy, as it provides an incentive for everyone, including households, businesses and municipalities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. A carbon levy will also encourage innovation and diversification of our economy.

The Alberta government is also protecting our oil industry by helping it be a leader. Our climate change policies, including the carbon levy, have helped get a number of pipelines approved. We have also seen corporate investment in the past few months. Some recent announcements include Cenovus increasing capital spending by 24 per cent in 2017, SemsCAMS announced a new sour gas plant in the Wapiti area, and 149 new wells have been approved under the modernized royalty framework, each one supporting 135 direct and indirect jobs and about $4.5 million in spending.

Revenue from the carbon levy will pay to help to diversify our energy industry and our province’s economy as a whole. This includes boosting electricity generation from renewable sources to 30 per cent by 2030, up from just 10 per cent at present. This will provide significant investment opportunities of at least $10.5 billion and create at least 7200 new jobs as projects are built.

World-class environmental standards and a strong economy that benefits working people must go hand-in-hand.

Albertans stand to gain with the carbon levy rebate. Approximately 1.13 million individual carbon rebate payments have been issued since Jan. 5 via direct deposit and cheques, including thousands in Whitecourt-Ste. Anne constituency. These rebates are intended to help lower  and middle- income households adjust to the carbon levy and invest in increasing energy efficiency at home. As we continue to reap the rewards of our Alberta-made solutions, we know that we can continue to support a strong and prosperous oil and gas sector while taking steps to reduce our carbon emissions.

First published in the Mayerthorpe Freelancer, Feb. 1, 2017.