Alberta says it will shortly clamp down on emissions of greenhouse gases -- perhaps as early as next year -- introducing regulations that the oil-producing province's Environment Minister claims will be the toughest in Canada...Fortunately, neither environmental nor industry groups are rewarding the province with the press it wants just yet:
Alberta has had climate-change legislation for two years, but Environment Minister Guy Boutilier said this week he aims to introduce enabling regulations by September. The details of the plan are still being formed, but this much is clear: Alberta's regulations will focus on heavy industry and they will require companies to do less than would be the case under Kyoto, over a longer period of time.
Environment Department spokeswoman Kim Hunt said the province is contemplating regulations that will set goals for reducing the emissions intensity in industries. Using such goals, a firm operating in the oil sands, one of the fastest growing sources of greenhouse gases in Canada, would be required to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases generated from each barrel of production. But overall emissions could still rise substantially as production increased.
"The environment doesn't care about intensity targets," said Marlo Raynolds, executive director for the Pembina Institute for Appropriate Development...It's a plus to see that provincial governments in general are at least acknowledging the need for action. But we can't afford to have the jury out much longer while the effects of global warming continue to pile up...and it'll take a lot more willingness to genuinely address the issue (rather than merely pretending through "intensity" targets) before there'll be any chance of real progress.
Pierre Alvarez, president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said his industry has been working with the province on greenhouse-gas regulation for several years, but will need to see the specific regulations before voicing an opinion. Mr. Raynolds of Pembina echoed that view, saying it is difficult to know whether to praise or condemn Alberta's plan at the moment.