Alberta names panel that will review its climate-change policy

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 14, 2015 5:28 PM

By Nia Williams

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - The Canadian province of Alberta, the biggest source of U.S. oil imports, announced the members of its climate change policy review panel on Friday, part of its pledge to implement new rules on greenhouse gas reductions.

Environment Minister Shannon Phillips said the panel would offer recommendations to the government by early November, ahead of a key United Nations climate change conference in Paris in December, but did not say when new GHG targets are likely to come into effect.

The five members of the panel are University of Alberta energy economist Andrew Leach, former Suncor Energy executive Gord Lambert, Enbridge Inc executive Linda Coady, Pembina Institute board member Stephanie Cairns and Angela Adams, a Metis Fort McMurray school district trustee.

Alberta's oil sands are Canada's fastest-growing source of carbon emissions and the province has faced harsh international criticism for what has been perceived as lax oversight of the oil sands industry.

The left-leaning New Democratic Party government of Alberta was elected in May on a platform that included promises to review climate change policy and the size of royalties resource companies pay to the province.

Those pledges have sparked concern among many oil and gas producers that new government policies will lead to rising costs at a time when global crude prices are tumbling, and Phillips sought to reassure industry there would be no surprises.

"What we need to do is take a clear-eyed look at the Alberta economy and design our targets and our pricing framework around that," she said.

Phillips said the panel will consult with industry, the general public and aboriginal communities as part of its review. She criticized previous Conservatives governments, which held power in Alberta for 44 consecutive years, for failing to take action on emissions.

"In the past we have had commitments to targets that have not been credible and action to reach those targets has not been realistic," she said.

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers said it had confidence in the panel announced on Friday and would participate fully in the climate change review process.

"The Alberta government wants to do more to address climate change – but it wants to grow the oil and gas industry, too. I believe we can find a balanced approach that achieves both,"

said CAPP President and Chief Executive Officer Tim McMillan.

(Editing by Peter Galloway)