CCS a cornerstone of Alberta's climate strategy

March 24, 2008

The Alberta government recently announced an updated climate change strategy in its January 2008 policy document, entitled "Alberta's 2008 Climate Strategy: Responsibility/Leadership/Action". The strategy calls for province-wide emissions reduction targets from current levels. Alberta is proposing cutting 20 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions by 2010, 50 million tonnes by 2020 and 200 million tonnes by 2050, relative to anticipated economic growth.  The strategy calls for the fostering and leveraging of carbon capture and storage technology to account for approximately 70% of the ultimate reductions, with conservation and efficiency efforts and the adoption of greener practices accounting for the remainder. Other points of interest in the strategy include the development of an Energy Efficiency Act, the development of protocols for facilities that emit over 50,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases to report their emissions, and the continued development of a carbon offset market in the Province.

Alberta was the first province to take action against GHG emissions; introducing a legislative regime in the spring of 2007. Under the regime, facilities with yearly GHG emissions over 100,000 tonnes are obliged to make annual emissions intensity reductions. The regime provided the foundation for Canada's first mandatory carbon trading market, commencing July 1, 2007. The Alberta government is still developing the rules of this market and hopes to have a system in place later this spring. In the interim, trading for compliance is already occurring. An offset system, including certain approved protocols and a registry, is already up and running in the Province. Offsets are considered to be a key compliance option for regulated entities under the Alberta regime.

In addition, CCS is receiving significant attention in Alberta as in other provinces and at the federal level. A number of large industrial emitters in Canada perceive significant opportunities for CCS in Western Canada and, through an alliance called ICO2N, have expressed a willingness to invest in CCS and use the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin's estimated capacity to store emissions. Given its potential capacity to generate emissions credits (and its potential assistance in petroleum recovery), CCS may prove to be of significant importance in the development of emissions trading, both in Alberta and federally.

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