Alberta's 100 Mt/year oil sands emission cap becomes law
Alberta's NDP government officially signed the previously announced 100 Mt/year oil sands emissions cap into law this week. Environment Minister Shannon Phillips says “With this bill Alberta makes clear to the world that energy-producing jurisdictions can establish limits and work and thrive in a carbon constrained future.”
The province says it expects to hit that limit by 2030. The government has set up an Oil Sands Advisory Group to figure out what comes next. Critics point out that no other oil producing jurisdiction has such a cap, which can't be good for future investments in the energy patch.
Alberta's NDP government also reluctantly admitted this week the province's new carbon tax will further contract the economy by an estimated 0.05% per year until 2022. The government says those numbers are preliminary and could be greatly improved if the economy diversifies away from energy exports or if a pipeline to tidewater is built. Opposition groups argue the impacts are far more negative and the government has yet to calculate the impact of shutting down coal-fired power plants. However, Phillips points out that the cost of doing nothing about climate change would be much greater.
Current emissions from the oil sands are estimated to be just under 65 Mt/year. The cap only applies to the oil sands and no other sector of the economy.