Alberta, Canada's Economic Driving Force, Cleaning Up Its Energy Act?


Alberta is slowly but surely cleaning up its energy act. In 2018, less than 50% of Alberta's electricity originated from coal-fired electricity generators. The restructuring of its energy mix has lead to a 16% (or 7 megatons) reduction in greenhouse gas emissions ("GHG"), an approximate equivalent of taking 1.5 million cars off the roads. However laudable this reduction may be for Alberta's unique electricity sector, it continues to pale in comparison to the province of Ontario. In 2014, Ontario became the first jurisdiction with a significant reliance on coal-fired electricity in North America. Ontario's reduction represented the largest GHG emissions reduction action on the North American continent. 

Further attesting to Alberta's progressive efforts in cleaning up its energy act are a reduction in the province's future projections of GHGs. Less than 4 years ago, Alberta projected an annual production of 313 megatons of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.  That projection has now been changed to 263 megatons, a 50 megaton reduction from its previous projection. This reduction in GHGs represents an equivalent of 11 million fewer cars on the road, which is akin to a 3 fold reduction in Vancouver, (BC) GHGs. While coal generation has declined from 59 to 47 %, power from cleaner natural gas has risen from 31% to 42%.

Apart form Alberta's plans to phase-out pollution from coal-fired electricity generation by 2030, a cap on oilsands emissions, and a reduction in methane emissions, Alberta's strategy also includes strategy also includes a price on carbon. A portion of the $1.8 billion collected from the carbon tax is being reinvested in the province's efforts to clean-up its energy act. Another $3 billion dollars is being invested into light rail transit over 10 year period. Alberta's carbon tax, however, is not without opposition. The province's United Conservative Party (UCP) is resolved to repeal the province's carbon tax, the rationale being that the province's carbon tax is killing jobs in the province and causing an economic decline.

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