EDMONTON — Alberta is set to unveil its long-awaited climate change policy today.
The announcement comes 24 hours before Premier Rachel Notley is scheduled to discuss the plan with the federal government in Ottawa and days before she heads to Paris for an international meeting on the issue.
Notley has signalled some of the broad outlines the plan is expected to include.
The policy, dubbed “Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan,” will likely include a price on carbon.
Alberta already charges $30 a tonne for greenhouse gases that large emitters release in excess of a regulated amount. That toll could well increase, adding another cost for energy companies already suffering from depressed markets.
The province has also signalled it will seek early closure of some coal-fired power generating plants — a move likely to be controversial.
Utility companies say they expect to be compensated if they lose profits from plants that would have had years of useful life. Officials from towns that depend on the plants and the mines that supply them have worried aloud about the impact on jobs in the communities, as well as the possibility of higher power prices.
Many questions remain.
The government has been tight-lipped over whether its carbon levy will apply only to large industry, as is now the case, or whether it will be widely applied as in British Columbia. Others wonder if other taxes will be reduced to make up for higher carbon levies, keeping the overall impact revenue neutral.
Today’s announcement is the result of months of consultation and study by an expert panel convened to help the government write the policy. Andrew Leach, a University of Alberta energy economist, led the panel, which received thousands of pages of submissions from citizens, industry and environmental groups.
Notley has maintained that not only is such a policy necessary for the global environment, but also needed to make it easier for bitumen from Alberta’s oilsands to find new export markets. The failure of the Keystone XL pipeline proposal in the U.S. was blamed, at least in part, on Alberta and Canada’s neglect of the climate change issue.