On June 25, 2015, Alberta's Environment Minister announced that the province will make changes to current climate change legislation, including the doubling of carbon levies from $15/tonne to $30/tonne by 2017. The government also stated that larger emitters will be required to reduce emissions intensity of greenhouse gases by 20 percent by 2017, up from the current 12 percent reductions currently prescribed in the regulations.
To accomplish these changes, the Alberta government has renewed the Specified Gas Emitters Regulation ("SGER") for two years. Currently, “heavy emitters” (facilities that emit more than 100,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases a year) are required to reduce baseline emissions intensities by 12 percent. Specifically, the SGER requires that the net emissions intensity for established facilities cannot exceed 88 percent of the baseline emissions intensity for the facility for any particular year. The SGER offers some leeway for facilities that fail to meet emissions targets, such as purchasing "fund credits" at $15/tonne, making use of available emissions performance credits (awarded to facilities which have shown a reduction greater than 12 percent) or submitting offset credits.
Under the proposed changes, heavy emitters will be required to reduce emissions intensity by 15 percent in 2016 and 20 percent in 2017. Further, the price of "fund credits" will increase to $20/tonne in 2016 and $30/tonne in 2017. The timing of the proposed changes has not yet been announced.
The renewal of SGER for two years allows time for the government’s comprehensive review of Alberta's climate change policies. This review will be undertaken by an advisory panel chaired by Andrew Leach, an environmental economist at the University of Alberta. The review is intended to develop a more advanced climate action strategy, one that could include enacting an economy-wide price on carbon pollution, phasing out coal-fired power, prioritizing renewable energy, building energy-efficient homes and businesses and investing in public transit.
Lawson Lundell's Project Law Blog focuses on updating proponents on issues emerging in the law and policy that applies to the development of major projects in Canada. The focus of the blog is on matters relating to environmental assessment and compliance, regulatory matters and Indigenous consultation.