Albertans recognize and strongly agree that climate change is a growing concern to all Canadians, and that action must be taken to address the issue. The Government of Alberta is looking for your feedback on its action plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and in particular on how the actions outlined in the plan should be implemented.
Albertans & Climate Change: A Plan for Action is a ‘made-in-Alberta’ approach that contributes to international objectives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while at the same time enhancing both Alberta’s and Canada’s competitiveness by capitalizing on new economic and environmental opportunities.
Because climate change is a complex topic, you may choose to read the enclosed summary, Albertans & Climate Change: Making a Difference. Should you be interested in the complete Albertans & Climate Change: A Plan for Action, copies are available at www.gov.ab.ca/env/climate/actionplan/index.html. Please feel free to answer as many, or as few, questions in this survey as you wish.
Results from the consultation process will be used to finalize Alberta’s action plan, and develop an implementation plan to meet Alberta’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets. The results will be summarized in a final report that will be made public. Consultation will be held until early October, and a final plan will be brought forward before the end of 2002.
1. How well informed do you feel on the issue of climate change?
Very well informed
x Somewhat well informed
Not at all informed
2. Please indicate how much of each of the following documents you have read regarding Alberta’s plans for addressing climate change.
Alberta’s Plan for Action is designed to assist the province in reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, while addressing economic risks and realities for Alberta consumers, business and industry based on a series of core principles.
3. Are there any additional core principles the Government of Alberta should consider as it moves forward with its plan for action?
Yes! There is little point in Alberta and Canada taking action on climate change on their own. Most of the world must be engaged in this global alleged problem if atmospheric greenhouse gases are to be controlled. This is missed in the plan but is mentioned on page 4 of the sister document "Albertans & Climate Change" where the federal government is assigned responsibility for "a strong international effort"
Alberta’s plan sets a target based on emissions intensity, or emissions relative to GDP. An emissions intensity-based target allows Alberta to focus on its objective of reducing emissions while maintaining its economic prosperity. The goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions intensity by 50 per cent by the year 2020.
4. How can Alberta track its progress in working toward its emissions reduction target?
This is a tough question and not one to which I have given a lot of thought. Other parts of the plan suggest the establishment of credits for emissions reductions. Those will acquire financial value through a market for these credits. Where financial value is established an accounting will be demanded. It seems a comprehensive system of carbon dioxide accounting comparable in complexity to the bookkeeping and validation associated with the handling of money and income taxes will be needed. A vast array of new rules and procedures to establish equitable accounting and auditing of carbon dioxide for business and industry, and perhaps individuals, will need to be set up. The data obtained from that will form the basis for monitoring progress toward the emissions reduction target relative to GDP.
5. Are there any additional approaches Alberta can take to help achieve its goal of reducing emissions while maintaining our economic prosperity?
There are likely many possibilities. It does seem the plan undervalues energy consumption as a driver of the Alberta economy and the basis for economic prosperity. This is partly indicated by an overemphasis on energy conservation in the plan. Some of the actions proposed, such as sequestration, are actually counter to energy efficiency in the conventional sense. The goal of reducing emissions while maintaining economic prosperity thus needs a strong focus on developing and deploying major energy sources with much lower lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions. Electricity is particularly vital to modern society so this mode of energy supply needs particular attention.
6. Are there any actions that you, personally, would be willing to take to assist in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Alberta?
Certainly! I would be most likely to respond to economic incentives on transportation and home energy needs which really focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. I will be most unhappy with measures that just interfere with my need for energy.
The Government of Alberta’s role in addressing climate change is to be a leader, a partner, a facilitator and an innovator. Not only will the Government of Alberta provide leadership and direction to private sector organizations as they move towards significant emissions reductions; it will also lead by example through the adoption of innovative energy efficient practices and technologies that significantly reduce the environmental footprint of government operations.
7. A Plan for Action outlines some steps the Government of Alberta will take to assist specific economic sectors in achieving significant emissions reductions. Are there any additional steps the Government of Alberta should take?
The plan seems to focus almost solely on the production and use of Alberta's fossil resources as a source of energy. Perhaps more thought should be given to the use of them as a source of materials (i.e. - petrochemicals, plastics, fertilizers, etc.). These more value added applications are already very significant. They will take on greater importance as time goes on and the world's supply of fossil resources is depleted. The government of Alberta should start looking to the future exploitation of fossil resources and try to balance the short and long term benefit to Albertans. Alternate forms of energy that are less useful as basic materials are available. Nuclear, hydraulic, wind and solar energy come to mind in decreasing order of availability. The exploitation of hydraulic and solar energy may interfere with the best use of water and energy by the biosphere. Their application as greenhouse gas reducing energy sources should be carefully considered to avoid counter effects which would lead to a net increase of emissions.
8. An emissions trading system may assist industry in achieving specific emissions reductions. How much should Alberta rely on emissions trading to meet our overall or sectoral targets, compared to other options (e.g. energy conservation, lower emitting technologies)?
It seems to me that our society will need the establishment of some kind of emissions trading system to "incent" meaningful emissions reduction. Simple good will with respect to conservation and lower emitting technologies will not take us very far. The sharp focus on value provided by some kind of emissions trading system - or even a tax on carbon dioxide - is needed to establish a fair system to engage all in reducing emissions. Some kind of financial credit for countering emissions (i.e. by agricultural or forest sinks) is essential to provide an incentive for that aspect of greenhouse gas management.
9. A Plan for Action also outlines steps the Government of Alberta will take to reduce emissions from its own operations. Are there any additional steps the Government of Alberta should take?
The steps outlined seem focused on the short term of a few months and years. Albertans and Canadians are not terribly well informed on climate change and the role of greenhouse gases in life on earth. The entire curriculum of the educational system needs to be re-examined with respect to the role of the carbon cycle in life processes and human impact on it. The importance of energy to our society needs reemphasis in the education program. It seems we can not take our use of energy for granted as we have over the past century. It's production and use by nature and humans needs to be better understood by all.
Technology and Innovation
The Government of Alberta’s investment in greenhouse gas reducing technologies will aim to reduce the environmental footprint associated with energy production, distribution and use in Alberta. In addition, Alberta will work towards developing the capacity for cost-effective capture, use and safe storage of carbon dioxide.
10. How can Alberta most effectively support investment in new technologies related to greenhouse gas emission reduction and carbon capture and storage?
It is apparent that Alberta cannot undertake the R&D needed all on it's own - unless other provinces and countries are willing to pay for new technology development. It has been suggested within Alberta R&D circles that some kind of international credit could possibly be established for R&D work related to GHG reduction. That seems a worthwhile goal to pursue with the federal government within the context of international efforts toward technology transfer.
At the very least some means of sharing costs and R&D projects across Canada should be pursued. Projects could reasonably be expected to reflect the sectoral interests of the regions. For example, Alberta could focus on oil and gas production, Ontario on nuclear energy and Quebec and BC on hydroelectricity. Even that seems to saddle Alberta with an unfair excessive burden since all provinces make use of fossil fuel produced in Alberta. In addition Canadian governments might link revenue derived from emissions reduction incentives (i.e. sale of emission permits) into R&D on new technology to reduce emissions and enhance sinks.
11. Should the Government of Alberta identify a dedicated revenue source for investments in technology and energy conservation?
Yes, but not with quite that emphasis. The emphasis should be on technology related to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from energy use, sequestering emissions and removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Energy conservation is a separate issue already supported by many institutes across Canada and elsewhere. Energy conservation is a worthy goal that will have a limited effect. Overemphasis of efficiency and conservation diverts attention from the primary goal of reducing atmospheric greenhouse gas.
Energy conservation and improved energy efficiency are key means by which Albertans can contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
12. A Plan for Action outlines some steps Alberta can take to improve energy conservation across the province. Are there any additional energy conservation policies and programs you can recommend that could contribute to improved energy conservation?
Energy conservation may be the key means by which individual Albertans can contribute to reducing greenhouse emissions. It is not necessarily the key means for Albertans to collectively reduce emissions. The programs identified seem adequate with respect to conservation. An additional caveat that should be added to the plan is that measures to improve efficiency and institute conservation should include some degree of life cycle analysis. Improvements in a particular process may induce inefficiencies elsewhere if a full accounting is not undertaken.
13. What types of energy conservation actions would you, personally, be willing to take?
I am willing to personally undertake actions related to my housing, transportation, and communications which make economic sense within the sphere of my personal welfare. That means I am unlikely to undertake actions that have little economic benefit to me. I believe an economic incentive will be needed through taxes, higher prices for energy from emitting sources, or financial rewards to induce significant changes in energy conservation by individuals.
Without such incentives I might turn off lights a little more often, or perhaps walk to the store out of conscience occasionally with very little effect on greenhouse gas emissions from my behaviour or the products I buy. I would tend to buy cars and appliances that produce fewer emissions. Such modest actions from citizens will have little effect on overall emissions.
Storing Carbon in Agricultural and Forestry Sinks
Alberta’s plan aims to develop, enhance and promote environmentally sustainable agriculture and forestry practices across Alberta that make meaningful longer-term contributions to reducing atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations.
14. A Plan for Action identifies several next steps with regard to the enhancement of agricultural and forestry sinks. Are there any other steps, studies or research you would recommend Alberta undertake as a means to further explore the use of agricultural and forestry sinks?
Yes! There is a major paradox evident with respect to carbon stored in forest products in the context of the Kyoto Protocol. There appears no consideration of carbon in the transfer of forest products between countries. The carbon content of Canada's forest product exports is very large - likely on the order of Canada's gap or the credit Canada is claiming for clean energy exports. Canada seems to be ignoring any suggestion that it should receive credit for this transfer of carbon outside our borders. This is particularly pertinent in view of the difficulty we are having with the US over lumber exports at this time. Alberta could have a role to play in ensuring credit on the international market for the carbon content of our timber and wood product exports. This is an important issue in the context of both the Kyoto Protocol and any alternative initiatives that might be taken to establish a North American alternative.
15. As a private citizen, how much would you be prepared to pay overall each month to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? (e.g. choosing environmentally-friendly products more often, home renovations to improve energy efficiency)
$0 per month
$1 – 25 per month
$26 – 50 per month
$51 – 100 per month
x More than $100 per month
16. What should the Government of Alberta’s top three priorities be in moving forward with an action plan on climate change?
17. Are there elements of the Government of Alberta’s A Plan for Action that you support?
Yes! Most elements of the plan have merit. The emphasis on technology development is particularly appropriate. The relatively long term view out to 2020 and 2050 is also very important as it will take time to develop and deploy new technology. If climate change is really a problem it will become apparent only over a long time period. Haste to implement short-term policy will likely lead to wasted effort.
The plan's focus on agricultural and forest sinks is also most pertinent. The federal negotiators have been most imaginative in getting recognition of sinks in the Kyoto protocol. To date information available on sink technology to those engaged in the federal climate change process has been skimpy - to say the least. Sink technology seems to have much promise and needs to be brought forward.
18. Are there elements of the Government of Alberta’s A Plan for Action that you oppose? Are there elements missing?
The concept of a "made in Alberta or Canada" plan has little merit. Perhaps it relates to the concept that Albertans and Canadians can lead by example. Meaningful action on greenhouse gas reduction demands international action.
The Alberta plan makes does not mention the need for international action. This is noted in the background document and should be moved up front into the plan.
19. Your thoughts and comments are very important. In the space below, please write any additional thoughts or comments you have about A Plan for Action.
The plan and supporting documents seem excessively dismissive of the Kyoto Protocol. The rationale for opposing Kyoto misses and distorts some of it's goals. For example it is implied that the Kyoto Protocol imposes no greenhouse gas emissions restrictions on developing countries. That is a distortion, as the goal of the UNFCCC and the Protocol is to impose restrictions on most countries in the long term beyond the first Kyoto period. Alberta's plan, with it's focus on the long term, would be more credible if it recognized that Kyoto goal. Perhaps it is the federal options put forth in June that have led to this rejection of Kyoto? The federal options do seem to focus excessively on means to meet the short term goal of the first Kyoto period.
If climate change is a problem, international action is required to manage greenhouse gases. The United Nations initiative with the Kyoto Protocol should not be rejected too lightly. That does not preclude the possibility that a separate and largely consistent North American initiative could be established in parallel with Kyoto. North America does seem to have more potential for population growth and growing emissions than many of the developed countries signing on to Kyoto. That factor is not sufficiently recognized by the Kyoto Protocol. The plans from the US and Alberta, which are based on reducing greenhouse gas intensity, suggest a direction to bridge the oversight.
20. Finally, the Government of Alberta is considering holding discussion sessions in Calgary and/or Edmonton to gain more feedback about Alberta’s A Plan for Action from Albertans. If you would be interested in attending a session please indicate in which city you would like to attend, and please provide your name, e-mail address and a telephone number where you can be reached in the space below.
Name: _Duane Pendergast_______________________________________________
E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org_______________________________
Telephone number: __(403) - 328-1704____________________________________
The following information is collected for statistical purposes only. The information you provide will not identify you.
Gender: x Male Female
What are the first three digits of your postal code? This will assist us in classifying which region of the province you live in. _T1K_________________________
What is your age?
18 and under
75 and over
Are you answering this questionnaire primarily as…
x A private citizen
An interest group*
A government body*
A private company*
*Name of organization (optional) ________________________________
Thank you for taking the time to provide your feedback.
Please mail this completed survey to:
Have Your Say Survey
c/o Alberta Environment
10th Floor, 9915-108 Street
Edmonton, AB T5K 2G8
Or fax the completed survey to: