Alberta’s world-class climate policy will drive the oil sands to cleaner production, build momentum heading into the Paris Climate Summit

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Edmonton - Sustainable Prosperity, a national economic think tank and research network, congratulates Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and the Province of Alberta for announcing a world-class climate policy that will lead to cleaner production from the oil sands, and build momentum ahead of the climate talks in Paris. The plan sees Alberta bringing in a substantial carbon price ($30/tonne) across the economy – including oil producers. It will reinvest those revenues boosting clean energy and technology, supporting vulnerable communities and households as they make a transition to a low-carbon future. Notley’s plan is also committed to phasing out coal power (Alberta’s major electricity source) by 2030.

Of particular note, there will be a cap on the CO2 emissions from Alberta’s oil sands, which will stabilize and ultimately reduce emissions.

“This is a globally significant decision. Alberta is now the world’s first major oil producer to put a cap on that industry’s greenhouse emissions, plus a significant carbon price and investment in clean innovation. This signals a serious commitment from the oil sands and the Province to clean up its act,”
--Stewart Elgie, Chair of SP and professor of law and economics at University of Ottawa

“That change won’t happen overnight – it will take some time and a lot of effort -- but Alberta has now put in place the right incentives and support to drive the oil sands to cleaner production. At the same time, the province is taking serious steps to get its own climate house in order,” said Elgie. “Its commitment to phase out coal power, invest in clean energy and technology, and put a significant price on carbon pollution puts Alberta on pace with the world’s leaders when it comes to building a stronger, cleaner economic future.” “This announcement comes at a crucial moment; it raises the bar for other world leaders at next week’s Paris climate summit. If Alberta – the target of global criticism for its so-called ‘dirty oil’ – can change its course, and make a real commitment to cleaner growth and lower carbon emissions, surely other jurisdictions can do the same,” said Elgie.

“This really could change everything.”

Sustainable Prosperity, based out of University of Ottawa, is a national economy-environment think tank and research network. Through research, convening and outreach, it helps to build the knowledge foundation for policies to forge a cleaner, stronger economic future. Its network includes more than 100 scholars from across Canada focused on environment-economy research, and many top global scholars. It also includes over 100 business, policy and environment leaders. SP has built a deep base of expertise on carbon pricing and climate policy; it has advised governments at the local, provincial national and global level, and its research is frequently cited across Canada and the world. Sustainable Prosperity also congratulates Alberta’s Climate Advisory Panel for its remarkable hard work over the past three months in providing the foundation for today’s announcement. The panel’s five members included Stephanie Cairns, Managing Director of Sustainable Prosperity’s Sustainable Communities research, and Gord Lambert, a member of SP’s steering committee.

For more information and to arrange interviews:

Melanie Coulson
Director of Communications
Sustainable Prosperity
(613) 562-5800 ext. 1189 (office)
(613) 462-3375 (cell)

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Image source: Luc Forsyth, Flickr

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About the Project

The goal of this project is to shed light on the relationship between economic activity and the environment by exploring the linkages between changes in our natural capital and our measures of productivity generally, and through the construction of an environmentally adjusted measure of productivity specifically.

While it is now commonly accepted that economic activity and the state of our environment are linked, many economic measures still fail to incorporate the environment – both the things we draw from it and the pollution we release into it. By developing and calculating measures of productivity that include natural capital, Canada may be able to better understand these linkages. This, in turn, may lead to the identification of strategies that can help Canada become more efficient and innovative in the use and protection of natural capital, and thus more productive and more prosperous.

Using the forestry sector as a case study, this project aims to construct an environmentally adjusted measure of multifactor productivity. In doing so, we aim to add another layer of understanding to the environmental and economic performance of this sector. The proposed measure will have relevance to the Canadian economy as a whole.