Alberta’s environment minister on climate policy and conversation

The Canadian Press interviews Shannon Phillips on the Alberta NDP’s ambitious climate plans


 
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Premier Rachel Notley, right, and Environment and Parks Minister Shannon Phillips look on after unveiling Alberta's climate strategy in Edmonton, Alberta, on Sunday, November 22, 2015.Climate isn't all that's changing in Alberta.The province's NDP government has arguably made bigger moves on global warming in six months than the previous Conservatives made in a generation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Amber Bracken

Premier Rachel Notley, right, and Environment and Parks Minister Shannon Phillips look on after unveiling Alberta’s climate strategy in Edmonton, Alberta, on Sunday, November 22, 2015.Climate isn’t all that’s changing in Alberta.The province’s NDP government has arguably made bigger moves on global warming in six months than the previous Conservatives made in a generation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Amber Bracken

EDMONTON – Climate isn’t all that’s changing in Alberta.

The province’s NDP government has arguably made bigger moves on global warming in six months than the previous Conservatives made in a generation. And the changes aren’t going to stop.

The details of the government’s new climate change policy — carbon-price rebates and green infrastructure investments, for starters — will be at least partly fleshed out in the coming months as the government readies its spring budget. But that, says Environment Minister Shannon Phillips, is just the beginning.

“We are entering a world that is going to be constrained with respect to (carbon),” the minister said recently in an interview with The Canadian Press.

“Alberta must be carbon-competitive with respect to our energy. It is also not something that this government created. It is a fact. Just as the science of climate change is a fact.

“We have a low price of oil, a scientific consensus on the way the global economy is going. Within that, one must make careful and deliberate decisions on how we move forward. The way to do that is not to engage in angry navel-gazing.”

Phillips is clear that Premier Rachel Notley understands that governments must not only lead, they must get people to follow. That became especially clear after poor communication sparked noisy protests against the government’s farm safety legislation.

Phillips uses the word “conversation” — with Albertans, with communities, with industry — again and again.

But make no mistake. She is working toward a different province than the one in which she grew up.

“Climate policy can be — and is — a job creator and community developer and a way that communities can really take ownership over how they develop.”

The boom-and-bust Alberta of go-go oil and gas investment followed by shuddering halt has got to end, she said.

“I’m not sure that anybody likes $35 a barrel (West Texas Intermediate). Or a $6-billion deficit due to a drop in royalties. Or a spike in domestic violence rates. Or a spike in food bank usage. Or a spike in suicide rates. Or charitable donations being down. I’m not sure that anyone’s actually comfortable with that.

“And that’s what relying on one commodity to one market at one price delivers to us. It delivers great wealth when that one commodity is high, but this has been an object lesson, the last six to eight months, in the need to diversify the economy.”

Phillips isn’t sure that Albertans need to be taught that lesson.

“Albertans know (it) very well. When you talk about the need to diversify, everyone nods their heads.”

Voters not only elected a progressive government last spring, suggested Phillips. They did it in the previous election when the Redford Tories won on a platform that attracted teachers, health-care workers, parents of school-age children and university students.

“Alberta is much more progressive than most people give it credit for. We saw that even with the election of the Redford government, and you saw it again on May 5. Albertans did that twice in a row.

“Albertans are ready for a strong, diversified economy in which we take our environmental responsibilities seriously, in which we are ensuring that we are delivering on our responsibility (for) good health and good air quality.”

That new economy will have some new faces in it, too.

“What we don’t want to do is replicate the social exclusions and the economic inequalities of the old days. What we want to do is ensure that all Albertans have access to growth and prosperity from these initiatives.”

Despite the farm safety protests, Phillips downplays the likelihood of a backlash. But if there is, bring it on.

“I’m a New Democrat in Alberta,” she said. “I’m not really afraid of much.”


 

Alberta’s environment minister on climate policy and conversation

  1. Every time Ms. Phillips opens her mouth, evidence of her delusional stridency is confirmed. She did, after all, author a chapter in an anti-oilsands screed in her former life. Perhaps her ideologically-driven blindness explains why her statements are interspersed with such sage comments as “scientific consensus on the way the world economy is going” (didn’t know scientists studied world economics, let alone that a consensus had emerged among them as to how it “is going”) and “angry navel gazing” (can’t speak for Ms. Phillips, but I’m always quite placid as I contemplate mine – maybe she’s upset she’s an “outtie”).

    She does, however, get one thing right:

    “Voters not only elected a progressive government last spring, suggested Phillips. They did it in the previous election when the Redford Tories won on a platform that attracted teachers, health-care workers, parents of school-age children and university students.”

    It is doubtful, however, she will view the fate of that government as providing a lesson as to how she and the rest of Premier Rach’s kindergarten cabinet should govern.

  2. Norway has a corporate tax rate of 27% (not 12% as under the Alberta NDP), a $71/t carbon tax, a Trillion $ in the bank, free education for everyone (including foreign university students), and was just rated the best country in the world to live in (again – http://www.cnn.com/2015/12/16/travel/undp-most-liveable-country/). The NDP government’s policies in Alberta will align us more closely with the successes of the Scandinavian countries. So, yes, I’d say Alberta is on the right path.

    • They also have the European market at their doorstep while Canada has the US and that’s it due to bureaucracy.

      • They are also a country. They can also ship their product to market directly, rather than via pipelines that can be held hostage on the whim of any one of a dozen or so parties who possess social, but not legal license to do so. The greenhouse gases associated with their oil production dwarfs the oilsands, yet they don’t feel inclined to assumed “leadership” on climate change. Otherwise, Norway and Alberta are like twins.

        • ” The greenhouse gases associated with their oil production dwarfs the oilsands, yet they don’t feel inclined to assumed “leadership” on climate change.”

          Horse$hit.
          Albertans’ greenhouse gas emissions are on the order of 6 times higherthan Norwegians’.

          ” They can also ship their product to market directly, rather than via pipelines that can be held hostage on the whim of any one of a dozen or so parties who possess social, but not legal license to do so. ”

          And yet, they produce only a fraction of the GHGs that Albertans produce.

          Horse$hit.

          • Stat Oil produces emissions in Alberta because it drills here as well as in Norway so if you are going to report on the horrible emissions for Alberta, you will have to include Stat Oil (Norway’s national oil company) as one of those horrible emitters. Cut the BS politics. The oil sands are responsible for 8 percent of Canada’s emissions. Other provinces get their oil from Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and South America. The emissions still are created. The oil comes by tanker so the environmental risk is still high and those countries have disgusting human rights records. You want to pretend because the emissions aren’t created in Alberta, that they don’t count? Ha! How are we going to fly those Bombardier planes we are funding without jet fuel? We are certainly forward thinking….not!

          • You’re totally incoherent.
            I’m not pretending anything doesn’t “count”. You, however, apparently think emissions should be counted twice.
            It’s pretty simple. Wheaties claim was utter nonsense – Albertans produce approximately 6 times the emissions of Norwegians.

          • I not incoherent. You just don’t want to hear it. BC and Obama sell record amounts of coal to China thereby financially exploiting the suffering of the Chinese and contributing to their carbon emissions. Many foreign entities drill in other countries. Stat Oil is one and it drills in Alberta, contributing to Alberta’s emissions and contributing to Norway’s bottom line. Meanwhile Alberta is shutting down its coal industry.

  3. No, you’re incoherent. You want to count emissions from the burning and production of exported fuels for the exporter(when the exporter is BC and the US) and count them for importer when that’s more convenient for you (“other provinces”).
    Unfortunately your desperate desire to add the emissions from exported fossil fuels to the exporter’semission totals isn’t going to help Alberta’s record.

    “Stat Oil is one and it drills in Alberta, contributing to Alberta’s emissions and contributing to Norway’s bottom line.”
    I guess Alberta shouldn’t sell leases to Stat Oil if it doesn’t like that.

  4. https://www.youtube.com/embed/iEPW_P7GVB8 geologist on climate change
    Carbon dioxide is not pollution it is plant food
    Temperature drives carbon dioxide not carbon dioxide drives temperature
    Cycles of heating and cooling normal
    Which part of 330 years of warming is natural and which part is from human activity?
    Climate change advocates ignore history
    Climate change advocates argument of science on temperature measurements are based only on the last 30-40 years
    Climate industry huge attack on scientific method
    By implementing carbon reduction by 2050 the change will be approximately 0.0007 degrees

  5. Dr. Patrick Moore – former green peace – Carbon dioxide a positive factor in our climate. If there was no CO2 this would be a dead planet as it is the main food for all life on Earth. Higher CO2 leads to higher crop production and forest production. All life on Earth is carbon based. CO2 is not toxic, not poison. 5-10000 ppm sub and spaceship. CO2 is nutrition not pollution

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfGmEE-JUSE

    • Neither Patrick Moore nor Ian Plimer have any background in climate science nor has either one published a single, solitary paper to back up their B.S.

      And whether or not CO2 is ‘toxic’ (in fact it is at high levels) or ‘plant food’ is entirely irrelevant to the issue of climate change.
      Water is also ‘plant food’ and not ‘toxic’. That doesn’t mean you can’t drown it, or die if you consume too much.

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