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DebraW
25-09-2007, 09:41 PM
Stelmach heckled in Toronto
Flogging Alberta’s greenhouse gas plan

Tue, September 25, 2007
By JEREMY LOOME, Legislature Bureau

A police officer removes environmentalist Glenn MacIntosh, right, founder of ecosanity.org, from an Empire Club of Canada luncheon after disrupting Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach's speech in Toronto.

He wasn’t entirely welcome, as environmental protesters were controlled by police outside the downtown event, although none were arrested or charged, Toronto Police said.

One protester was whisked away by police from inside the Empire Club of Canada luncheon after he disrupted Stelmach's speech.

The plan, which demands the province’s largest greenhouse gas producers reduce new emissions by 12% before next year, also includes options that allow companies to pay for credit against meeting their targets, either by buying spare credits from companies already under the targets or by paying into an innovation and technology fund.

It has been roundly criticized by environmental groups, who say it uses a per-barrel-produced emissions figure to avoid addressing current overall emissions levels, and allows industry to merely buy its way out of cleaning emissions on the vague promise of future technological improvements.

But Stelmach told the Empire Club -- one of Canada’s leading political and social think-tanks -- the plan balances Alberta’s need to be both an economic leader and protect its natural assets.

“We take seriously our responsibilities to ourselves, to Canada and to future generations,” said Stelmach.

“And that includes Alberta’s energy sector. Our energy companies recognize that environmental concerns are real, and government and industry must work together to encourage practical measures to reduce our impact on the natural world.”

But the lack of science behind the plan is just foolish, said Matthew Bramley, of the environmental lobby The Pembina Institute.

Under Alberta’s plan the industry will meet its targets by 2020 -- but be producing 72% more greenhouse gases than in 1990, he said, because the plan is tailored to production levels, not emission levels.

“So in terms of greenhouse gas reductions, it’s a plan that simply won’t work and, in fact, allow the levels to nearly double,” said Bramley.

“And the Alberta government seems to have this agenda to try and convince the federal government to adopt the province’s regulations nationwide.”

In fact, a poll last year showed that when given the option of forcing the industry to incur immediate costs to lower current emissions through hard targets instead of “emissions per barrel of oil produced”, 70% of Albertans chose the former, said Bramley.

“So clearly the government is completely disconnected from Albertans and what they want,” he said.

“We released a paper last February showing that Alberta could set Kyoto-level emissions targets and that it would cost the industry no more than $1 per barrel to meet them.”

Liberal leader Kevin Taft said it’s hard for Stelmach to be taken seriously on a plan that has been so widely criticized.

“It’s a reduction plan that won’t lead to reductions,” he said. “I think Ed Stelmach is trying to sell something that people just don’t want to buy anymore, and that gets the reception you’d expect.”

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sweetcrude
25-09-2007, 11:56 PM
“We take seriously our responsibilities to ourselves..." said Stelmach.

Truer words were never spoken.

I understand the goals of the Kyoto Protocol and think that they are worthy goals. The problem I am now seeing more clearly than ever is how inadequate a system like Kyoto is.

Kyoto is now international law yet action still seems largely voluntary. Voluntary change to the detriment of an economy is not a popular choice to make, and the choice not to voluntarily penalize your own economy is making it's resurgence in the international community. The U.S. has been stalwart against the Kyoto protocol, and others who have both signed and ratified the protocol are now failing to meet their goals of reducing their emissions. Canada is in this group.

The recent news is a push to reformulate the approach the international community takes towards reducing emissions (see here (http://canadianpress.google.com/article/ALeqM5ggrE2VmngoM0mYhe-hr5CXz5YEBQ)).

I understand the premise of Canada's current view of combating climate change, however there is a serious problem with expending huge effort to develop international consensus towards a protocol only to not do anything over the duration of the plan and then belittle the agreement soon before it expires. This is exactly what is happening today and unfortunately this will continue.

I'd really not like to be so pessimistic about the whole situation, but it seems fairly obvious to me at this point that voluntary action is not a workable solution for a problem like climate change. There is merit in what the Conservatives are proponents of, but there is merit in the approach developed in the Kyoto protocol as well. What we need to do is adhere to a plan, not reformulate the plan everytime the current one is about to expire. This gets us nowhere closer to finding an ultimate solution.

Kyoto allows for "cap and trade" systems. These are not nearly as developed as they should be simply because there really are no incentives for polluters to act. Until everyone is on board, the "cap and trade" system is not likely to flourish. Alongside the "cap and trade" system should exist mechanisms of taxation that promote activity in the markets. This should be promoted at an international scale sooner than later as a real way to get countries to voluntarily set their emission caps and start trading. The solution needs to be tied to the world economy sooner than later. If we cannot do this, I fear we'll be having the same debate again and again for decades to come.

Schweiktoo
26-09-2007, 07:53 AM
I worry that our province just doesn't see the train that is heading right for us.

Instead of worrying how to make our really expensive provincial government gain even more money off of industry - why not direct money and effort into making our industry green. Why not look at the full range of things, from recycled water to carbon sequestration that will have a real impact on greening Alberta - and making industry environmentally sustainable.

We need to change both industry and personal action - and then show that to the world. We need to have our government finally realize that we are a mostly urban province - and orient it's spending and planning around creating sustainable urban environments - rather than trying to industrialize every square inch of our farm lands.

Having the Premier go out like he did just reconfirms the whole image of Alberta as a "me first" entity that can't see the forest through the tar. No one in TO cares that we're rich - they want to see a progressive Alberta do something worthwhile with its money and status - and transforming a dirty industry into a clean one would seem to be the only priority he should be discussing in TO.

snakes on a blog
26-09-2007, 10:14 AM
Mr. Stelmach is getting that kind of reception outside of alberta for 2 reasons:

1. people in central and eastern canada don't have a cozy relationship with his government and feel free to critique his policies at will.

2. his government plan to 'reduce' GHG is nothing more than a shell game. trying to convice people that we are acting to reduce GHG when in fact total emissions will rise. Mr. Stelmach is finding out that canadians are not that stupid. can the same be said for albertans?

What surprises me the most about this debate is that the rural farming community and the northern forest industry is not all over the alberta government to act on GHG. It is these industries that will suffer the most when our precipitation and river flow patterns change.

TerryH
26-09-2007, 12:32 PM
Time to turn off the taps to the East. If they really want to reduce emissions, let them go cold turkey.

glasshead
26-09-2007, 12:43 PM
Time to turn off the taps to the East. If they really want to reduce emissions, let them go cold turkey.

What taps? They've got sufficient refining capacity locally and crude supply from the gulf/overseas. We Albertans are getting a little too big for our britches.

TerryH
26-09-2007, 12:50 PM
Time to turn off the taps to the East. If they really want to reduce emissions, let them go cold turkey.

What taps? They've got sufficient refining capacity locally and crude supply from the gulf/overseas. We Albertans are getting a little too big for our britches.

So I don't see what the complaining is from there. If they want fewer emissions, start at home.

This turned out to be pretty much a waste of time for everyone.

kcantor
26-09-2007, 05:28 PM
I worry that our province just doesn't see the train that is heading right for us.

... No one in TO cares that we're rich - they want to see a progressive Alberta do something worthwhile with its money and status - and transforming a dirty industry into a clean one would seem to be the only priority he should be discussing in TO.
i have been in dear old TO since all week and will be for the rest of it as well. :(

they are in the middle of their own provincial elections at the moment and while there is a lot of posturing going on, it seems no different whatsoever than any other visit. dear old TO cares for absolutely nothing but what is good for dear old TO and their own economic health and well-being takes precedence over all- except what may be good for windsor and hamilton as well.

while i am not a "let them freeze in the dark proponent", alberta looking after alberta first is something that would be far more understood and respected.

those protesting our premier's positions are just as stridently protesting their own government and every other level of government irrespective of their goals and/or performance in meeting them. if TO is ligitimately concerned with canadian emission levels, they do not have to look far if they want substantive changes implemented.

i have had the pleasure of listening to both stephen lewis and david suzuki in the past two days. from a global basis, i have a much easier time reconciling what is going on in alberta than i do do with TO.

i live in a neighborhood that has strong kyoto sympathies. we have a community centre with decades old furnaces with failing heat exchangers that could probably be replaced with high efficiency furnaces for less than 2,500 each. instead, more than 5,000 was spent on a consultants report that said the furnaces should be replaces, light bulbs changed for more efficient ones, low flush toilets installed, replacing rather than repairing inefficient coolers etc. there is a proposal for the centre to become "carbon neutral" by purchasing "carbon credits" and while noone knows where those dollars would actually go, they would not be spent in our community, our city and perhaps not even our province or our country. it would, however - according to the proponents - be good publicity and newsworthy to be the first carbon neutral community hall in the city. of course, it would still be feediing twice as much natural gas into those old furnaces after that as before...

we should worry less about TO and simply look after our own house - exactly what the premier is proposing.

TerryH
26-09-2007, 05:43 PM
I'm not a "let them freeze..." proponent as well.

I just wonder why we're going through the posturing process. The whole thing that went on during and after the "Ahnold" visit, with Ontario and B.C. criticizing Alberta, had zero to do with any enviromental causes and had everything to do with us gaining a substantial economic superiority on them.

It's strange that those 2 provinces want us to cut back, yet B.C.'s lower mainland gets fat and happy off the Peace block and Ontario keeps their heavy manufacturing sector going, which I doubt they'd dare want to scale down.