By: Nimra Amjad
The Canadian Youth Delegation to COP21 welcomes the Alberta government’s Climate Leadership Plan as an important, historic step towards curbing emissions, capping carbon-intensive growth and facilitating the transition to cleaner economy. Basically...
To start off with, there is now a limit to growth in the tar sands. Let that sink in.
The 100 megaton cap on emissions is one of the first times an energy-producing jurisdiction in the developed world has put carbon-based limits on growth. The cap on emissions still allows for about 40 percent growth of the tar sands and does not include cogeneration. While the cap recognises that most remaining fossil fuel reserves must stay unexploited in order to curb emissions, it is still not strong enough to be consistent with the 2C scientific limit needed to avoid catastrophic warming. The CYD encourages the Alberta government to continue to set stricter targets that recognise these scientific limits and the urgency required to put this policy into action.
Coal is the most significant contributor to GHG emissions in the province and we heartily endorse the government’s goal of rapidly phasing out coal and replacing it with two thirds renewable energy by 2030. The commitment to supporting communities with plans to shut down coal plants is an important model of a justice-based transition. The energy market in Alberta is deregulated so companies are claiming the need for compensation for lost assets. We believe that the money raised from the carbon tax would be better spent on public services rather than bailouts for the biggest polluters.
The CYD is committed to an justice-based approach to climate policy. Therefore, we believe that the government should prioritize the voices of Indigenous communities who are often on the frontlines of the climate crisis, and youth facing the intergenerational impacts of climate change. Their voices should be front and centre in policy making and through consultation processes involving climate action. At present, the Alberta Climate Change Strategy involves inadequate consultation with indigenous and frontline communities.
The revenue-neutral carbon tax which offers rebates to low-income earners in the province is an important and effective step in the right direction. However, the cap on tar sands emissions doesn’t address the ongoing treaty violations caused by unmitigated tar sands development. In fact, the plan’s failure to consider treaty violations, lack of discussion around Free, Prior, and Informed Consent for energy projects, as well as the insufficient consultation process required in this policy, call into question whether there is a true commitment to indigenous rights and the implementation of UNDRIP. The Notley government has made strong commitments to UNDRIP in the past, so when we meet her in Paris, we’ll be reminding her of the promises she made.
The CYD joins the Pembina Institute, ForestEthics, Greenpeace, The David Suzuki Foundation and other environmental groups in applauding the Alberta government’s climate plan. It’s a huge first step that we will fight to protect -- and we look forward to pushing them to take on even stronger commitments in the future.
Now that Alberta has introduced a strong plan to phase out the use of fossil fuels and cap emissions from the tar sands, we’re looking to the federal government for real climate leadership as well.
Here are some more great resources if you’d like to learn more:
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