Photo: The Canadian Press
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau leaves the stage after giving a short speech on Monday, November 1, 2021, at the 26th session of the Council of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, known as COP26, in Glasgow, Scotland. THE CANADIAN PRESS / Sean Kilpatrick
Politicians in Alberta warn the federal Liberal government that ceilings for greenhouse gas emissions from oil and gas must be set in consultation with the province.
Both Prime Minister Jason Kenney and new Democratic opposition leader Rachel Notley say Alberta should be on the table when the emissions caps announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday are discussed.
“I do not know why they would come up with a statement like this without consulting the province that actually owns the overwhelming majority of Canada’s oil and gas reserves,” Kenney said.
Notley pointed out that oil and gas are not the only part of the economy that emits carbon dioxide.
“If the federal government is to talk about emission ceilings for the oil and gas industry, they have to talk about emission ceilings for all sectors,” she said. “Alberta’s government must be at the table and advocate for the best deal for Alberta.”
On Monday, Trudeau told the global climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, that Canada would impose a tough ceiling on emissions from the sector – the source of about a quarter of all Canada’s greenhouse gases.
Trudeau said the government is now continuing its election promise to limit these emissions. The promise would see emissions limited to around current levels and screwed down every five years until they are CO2 neutral by 2050.
“We want to limit oil and gas sector emissions today and ensure that they fall tomorrow at a pace and scale necessary to reach net zero by 2050,” Trudeau said.
Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault and Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson on Monday formally asked the government’s net zero advisory board to help them achieve this goal.
Kenney said his government is not necessarily opposed to a ceiling. An emission ceiling of 100 megatons already exists for oil sands, although this limit allows for expansion and has never been reached.
“We need to know what the cap is. We are willing to discuss the proposed 100 megaton cap with them.”
Kenney said a better move from Ottawa would be a $ 32 billion transfer of tax dollars to help the industry pay for carbon capture, use and storage – facilities that would collect carbon and pump it underground for long-term storage. Such facilities already exist in Alberta.
Tim McMillan of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers said in a statement that such policies could help Canadian oil and gas reduce global carbon emissions.
“The world needs increased access to lower emissions of natural gas and oil,” he said. “Canada, under the right political environment, can position ourselves as a preferred global supplier.”
Recent studies have suggested that Canada is already the largest oil and gas subsidy in the G20. The Federal Liberal and Federal Agencies have promised to reduce these subsidies.
Chris Severson-Baker of the Pembina Institute, a think tank for clean energy, said carbon capture is unlikely to play as big a role in reducing emissions as Kenney wants.
“There is a role for some degree of public support for carbon capture,” he said. “I think what Jason Kenney and the companies are talking about is that plus a whole lot more money.”
Severson-Baker said other federal rules would apply throughout Canada’s economy. But an oil and gas ceiling is justified because it is the sector where emissions are rising.
“This is the sector that (Trudeau) needs to focus on.”