New report finds Alberta must strengthen emissions rules to meet climate commitments

Dec. 16, 2011

CALGARY — In the most comprehensive assessment of Alberta’s climate change policies to date, a new report by the Pembina Institute concludes that Alberta’s current approach will deliver less than one third of the greenhouse gas reductions the Government of Alberta has committed to, but strengthening current policies could enable the province to meet its climate targets.

Responsible Action? An assessment of Alberta’s greenhouse gas policies provides a detailed evaluation of current regulations and financial incentives to reduce greenhouse gas pollution, and identifies key opportunities for the Government of Alberta to strengthen its approach to climate change.

“Alberta was an early adopter of policies that could be used to drive greenhouse gas reductions, but those policies currently fall short of the province’s goal,” said Simon Dyer, policy director for the Pembina Institute and co-author of the report. “Our analysis shows Alberta’s climate commitments are not out of reach — but to deliver on those commitments, the province must move beyond half-measures and good intentions by strengthening existing policies and focusing on results.”

Alberta has committed to reduce greenhouse gas pollution by 50 megatonnes (MT) below business as usual by 2020. The Pembina Institute’s assessment shows that the province will only cut emissions by up to 14 MT below business as usual by 2020 unless it implements significantly stronger measures.

The report outlines six key recommendations to strengthen current climate policies. The most important recommendations are to require a levy on all pollution from industry (not just 12 per cent of emissions), increase the price on pollution from $15 to $30 dollars per tonne, and to transition towards pricing every tonne of greenhouse gas pollution in the province, not just emissions from the largest industrial facilities.

While Alberta was the first jurisdiction in North America to apply a carbon price for large emitters, the Pembina Institute’s analysis finds this incentive has been far too low to adequately reduce pollution. Over the two decades from 1990 and 2009, Alberta’s greenhouse gas pollution increased dramatically (more than any other jurisdiction in North America), and the province is on track to continue that trend under current policies.

Economic modelling commissioned by the Pembina Institute in 2009 found that much higher carbon prices in Canada would still allow Alberta to maintain the strongest GDP growth in the country. Currently, British Columbia’s carbon levy is double Alberta’s and applies to a broader portion of the economy, and the province’s economy remains strong relative to rest of Canada.

Increasing scrutiny of how Alberta is managinggreenhouse gas pollution, particularly from energy production, means the pressure is growing for Alberta to demonstrate climate leadership and deliver on its promises to cut pollution — and this report highlights the priority actions Alberta could take to improve its performance.

“Alberta has an opportunity to change how the province is perceived, both in Canada and around the world, by strengthening its approach to reducing greenhouse gas pollution and more actively encouraging other jurisdictions to do likewise,” said Dyer. “We look forward to working with the Government of Alberta to ensure that this province and our country as a whole can meet their climate commitments.”


Learn more: The full report, briefing note, slideshow and other resources related to Responsible Action? An assessment of Alberta’s greenhouse gas policies are available online at


Simon Dyer
Policy director
c. 403-322-3937

To arrange interviews please contact:
David Dodge
Communications specialist
c. 780-232-6162


Alberta’s climate change strategy, “Responsibility/Leadership/Action” is available at



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