Alberta Organizations Refute Alberta Government's Position on Kyoto

September 6, 2002
Media Release
Pembina Institute

Edmonton — The Pembina Institute and Albertans for Ratifying Kyoto (ARK) today called on the Alberta government to end its opposition to the Kyoto Protocol and urged it to contribute constructively to the development of a fair and equitable Kyoto implementation plan that would include a meaningful contribution from Alberta. The Pembina Institute released a detailed assessment of the Alberta government's current climate change action plan (1), clearly demonstrating that Alberta's "Kyoto alternative" contains little in the way of meaningful action to protect the climate and could instead allow Alberta's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to increase dramatically over the next 20 years.

"The Alberta government's plan is not an alternative to Kyoto — it represents a small change from business as usual, and ignores both the economic opportunities associated with climate protection and the damaging impacts of climate change," says Rob Macintosh, Senior Advisor at the Pembina Institute. "The large emission increases associated with the plan make it clear that the government of Alberta remains unwilling to take any responsibility to contribute significantly to Canada's efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

"A majority of Albertans support action on climate change and Canada's ratification of the Kyoto Protocol," said Myles Kitagawa of the Toxics Watch Society, a member of the ARK campaign. "The evidence clearly shows that Kyoto's greenhouse gas emission reduction targets can be achieved with minimal impact on Alberta's economic prosperity and long-term benefits for the Canadian economy."

Key findings of the Pembina Institute's Assessment of Alberta's Climate Change Action Plan include the following:

  • The provincial government expects the plan to result in Alberta's GHG emissions remaining fully 20-35% higher in 2020 that in 1990. But if Alberta's GDP continued to grow at the rate it did during the 1990s, the plan's emission "intensity" target could be met even while the province's emissions rise to 66-83% above the 1990 level.
  • Only 22 of the 48 distinct actions contained in the plan are both clearly committed to and have some chance of directly resulting in GHG emission reductions. Just eight of these actions are capable of producing significant emission reductions in the Kyoto timeframe.
  • The plan ignores a large number of key policy measures required to reduce important sources of GHG emissions. The plan does not mention passenger transportation, barely mentions trucking, and omits key measures already implemented in many US states and European countries such as quotas and incentives to promote renewable sources of electricity.

The Pembina Institute and ARK also refute the Alberta government's recent statements about the economic impact of Kyoto and a lack of consultation on the issue by noting

  • the most recent detailed economic modelling study of implementing Kyoto in Canada, conducted by federal and provincial governments (including that of Alberta), shows that in the most likely scenarios, Alberta's economic growth between 2000 and 2012 would slow only marginally, from 27.3% to 25.9-26.7%. Adjustments to the measures used to implement Kyoto, designed to specifically address some of Alberta's concerns, would reduce that impact even further;
  • a Pembina Institute study (2), surveying real-world evidence of ways environmental initiatives affect competitiveness, concluded that Canada's competitiveness, defined broadly, is likely to benefit from implementing the Kyoto Protocol;
  • provincial governments and industry associations have been continuously consulted about Kyoto for more than four years under the National Climate Change Process, which the Government of Alberta co-chaired until earlier this year.

"The Prime Minister has made it clear that Canada will ratify the Kyoto Protocol," said Robert Hornung, Policy Director at the Pembina Institute. "It is time for the Alberta government to move from denial to constructive engagement. What is needed is government leadership to design and implement meaningful actions to reduce GHG emissions that will keep the province's resource industries competitive while helping Canada meet its international obligations. Concrete action plans, not rhetoric and legal blustering, are needed to provide leverage when negotiating with federal and provincial governments for a Kyoto implementation strategy that is fair and equitable for Albertans."

Note for editors:

1. The report, entitled "An Assessment of Alberta's Climate Change Action Plan," can be downloaded at If you experience difficulties, please contact Heidi Lasi at the Pembina Institute (613-235-6288, ext. 28).

2. The study, entitled "How Ratifying the Kyoto Protocol Will Benefit Canada's Competitiveness," can be downloaded at /pub/132.

For more information contact:

Rob Macintosh, Senior Advisor, Pembina Institute (Edmonton / Drayton Valley) 780-621-8422 (cell) or 780-542-6021.
Robert Hornung, Policy Director, Pembina Institute (Ottawa) 613-235-6288, ext. 22 or 613-262-1818 (cell).
Myles Kitagawa, Toxics Watch Society and ARK Campaign (Edmonton) 780-907-1231 (cell).

Get our Pembina Perspectives

Pembina Perspectives provides provides thoughtful, evidence-based research and analysis to support action on climate — in your inbox every two weeks.

We endeavour to protect your confidentiality; read our full privacy policy.