Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Stelmachs greenhouse gas plan goes over like a lead balloon

It seems that both Harper and Stelmach are alike in their aversion to reduce overall emissions rather than "intensity". Stelmach can claim reductions per barrel while overall emissions continue to rise. The system is better than nothing at all but that is about all!

September 25, 2007

Stelmach heckled in Toronto Flogging Alberta’s greenhouse gas plan
By JEREMY LOOME, Legislature Bureau

A police officer, left, 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. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/J.P. Moczulski)
Premier Ed Stelmach took the offensive today in selling Alberta’s greenhouse gas emissions plan, telling an influential Toronto audience it’s a balanced attempt at addressing environmental concerns.
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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