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    Categories: Federal Election

What are your plans for a greener Alberta?

While Alberta’s leaders once balked at the implementation of a national energy program introduced by a former Liberal prime minister – and scared any federal government since out of creating a new country-wide plan that could tackle its emission targets – Alberta inked one earlier this summer, agreeing to work with other provinces to sustainably invest in the energy sector.

Although the plan was originally the brainchild of former Progressive Conservative Alison Redford to promote the province’s oilsands development and get the pipelines needed to move its crude across the country, Premier Rachel Notley has made it clear in recent discussions in Ontario and New York that the province is committed to doing its part in reducing climate change.

Upon taking office, Notley created an advisory panel to review the province’s climate change policy, which will look not only at how to become a responsible oil producer, but what can done by everyday Albertans.

The premier expects to travel to Paris in November, where countries are expected to hammer out a new deal to lower global greenhouse-gas emissions, with a new Alberta policy in tow.

Given the provinces’ commitment to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the complexities of environmental policy – the provinces have control over their natural resources and energy production, but the federal government is the only level of Canadian government that can sign international agreements – we asked:

Canadian provinces are committed to doing their part in lowering global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions despite the federal government’s reluctance to commit to a national carbon strategy. How does your party plan on working with the provinces and in particular with the Alberta NDP government towards the creation of a lower carbon economy?

With the leadership of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the government has taken action to deliver results on energy and the environment in a number of ways.

We are boosting clean energy investments to secure Canada’s position as the world’s foremost clean energy superpower. We are cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. We are also reducing fuel usage for cars and light trucks by 50 per cent below 2008 levels over the next 10 years.

Additionally, we are protecting and conserving Canada’s natural heritage by preserving record amounts of precious parkland for future generations to enjoy. Thanks to the proactive leadership of the Harper government, Canada has successfully made real reductions to GHG emissions while growing the Canadian economy.

Canada’s constitution delegates much of this to the provinces, but we can do a lot to drive innovation, and to adapt to the best practices from elsewhere. We will restore the damage to our international reputation – a direct result of the Conservative decision to pull us out of the Kyoto Protocol – making a clear, national commitment to emissions reduction, and learning from other countries that are now well ahead of us in the transition to a low-carbon economy.

We will support Alberta in integrating renewable energy into the mainstream, and increasing energy efficiency – responsibly, judiciously, while avoiding price shocks, protecting investments, and maintaining the flow of energy.

Fortunately, the Alberta NDP knows how important a healthy energy sector is to our well-being, our infrastructure, our social programs, and – for many of us – our mortgages.

Emissions-reduction policies need to be developed very, very carefully, and we will ensure that everyone in Ottawa understands this.

• Bring refineries to Alberta;

• Support oilsands workers who depend on the industry and support those who have recently been laid off;

• Provide retraining for workers so that they can find long term jobs close to home;

• Place a fee on carbon and pay the funds it generates directly to every Canadian over the age of 18 in the form of an annual carbon dividend; and

• Invest in an infrastructure that promotes renewable energy, and a more robust east-west electricity grid to promote renewable energy transmission between provinces.

The preponderance of scientific evidence demonstrates that the Earth is warming and that human activity is contributing to the trend. The Harper government promised emission regulations for oil and gas in 2006 but has failed to deliver. Regulations in the coal fired electrical sector have caused emissions to lower in that industry.

Canada must impose emission standards to improve our international environmental reputation. Our reputation as poor environmental stewards has caused the delay and denial of the approval of important energy projects, such as the Keystone XL. Alberta needs to get its energy products to tidewater and international markets in order to obtain world oil prices.

I prefer sectoral regulation – industrial sector by industrial sector – to cap and trade or a carbon tax.

Until alternate energy resources are developed, the world will remain dependent on oil and gas. Rail is neither a cost effective nor a safe way to transport energy products to market. I support responsible resource development.

The Liberal Party acknowledges the diverse economies in each jurisdiction and so will ensure a portfolio of appropriate actions is put in place.

Starting with a first ministers’ meeting convened 90 days after the UN Climate Change Summit in Paris, we will work towards a national emission reduction target based on sound economic and scientific analysis. Resources to design own policies to meet targets will be made available to the provinces and territories, including carbon pricing policies. There will be federal funding to help achieve the commitment to reduce emission.

A Liberal federal government will employ a consultative approach with all provinces and territories, including Alberta.

Michelle Ferguson: