Regardless of what causes climate change, APEGGA and its membership have roles to play in a planned provincial action plan, says the Association President
A CHANGING LANDSCAPE
BY GEORGE LEE
Most Albertans think the province should address the risks attached to climate change and take action on practices contributing to greenhouse gas emissions, a public consultation suggests. “The results indicate a strong majority of respondents believe the province needs to take more action now to deal with the causes and risks of climate change,” says a summary presented at multi-stakeholder roundtables last month.
The consultation, as well as the roundtables in Edmonton and Calgary, is part of the province’s work in creating a new Climate Change Action Plan. APEGGA took part in the Edmonton roundtable. See front page story.
The consultation resulted in 2,603 workbooks being submitted — 230 at public sessions, 304 through the mail and 2,069 online. Ten discussion sessions held throughout the province attracted about 700 Albertans.
“A strong majority of respondents expected government action on this issue to include absolute emission targets, increased regulation of greenhouse gas emissions, improved information and education, and a variety of economic tools that could include both incentives and penalties,” says the summary.
However, some Albertans do question whether human activity is causing climate change. “Some participants voiced concern that the government is accepting scientific evidence of the human impact on climate change too readily.”
The consultation, carried out from March 24 to April 25, was based on open access and not statistical control. The numbers therefore indicate Albertans’ preferences but are not scientific predictions.
The summary says there are economic concerns about action against climate change. Some participants “expressed concern that inappropriate government interventions could put the provincial economy and the lifestyles of Albertans at risk, without any significant reduction of global climate change risk,” the report says.
However, many Albertans who supported government action cautioned that “failure
to take immediate action could have a significant impact on the global economy
as well as our provincial economy.”
Albertans were asked whether they agreed with four draft goals. These goals and agreement percentages are
Alberta will reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions — 80 per cent web/mail submissions, 84 per cent meetings submissions.
Alberta will lead Canadian provinces in the use of renewable and alternative energy sources — 79 per cent, 83 per cent.
Albertans will have the knowledge and tools to deal with the impacts of climate change — 79 per cent, 80 per cent.
Alberta will maintain a vibrant economy and high quality of life while addressing this global issue — 59 per cent, 53 per cent.
Half of the workbooks submitters agreed in absolute targets in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in Alberta, as quickly as possible. About 40 per cent agreed the province should continue with intensity targets, but adopt absolute targets before an established deadline. And about 10 per cent agreed with intensity targets only.
Public investment in new technologies is fine with many Albertans, the consultation indicated. Participants “largely agreed” that such investment should be an important part of the action plan.
Technologies that support increased energy efficiency and conservation, as well as increased reliance on renewable and alternative energy sources, were given high ratings by about 90 per cent of workbook submitters. Carbon capture and management technologies were highly rated by about 50 per cent, clean coal fewer than 50 per cent, and nuclear energy about 30 per cent.
“While a large majority felt that energy conservation should be a critical part of the plan, many felt that the cost of changing to energy-efficient materials and technology is a serious barrier to action.”
Opinions were strong on either side of the nuclear energy question. In community discussions, some said it may be the only technology that can meet energy needs without increasing greenhouse gas emissions. Those opposed, however, pointed to risks, expense and the difficulty of handling radioactive waste.
A draft climate change action plan will be released over the summer for discussion. Albertans will be asked to provide input on the plan in early fall. The final plan will be released in late fall.
Albertans & Climate Change