Alberta legislature to focus on climate change during fall session
by Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press
"This fall we will continue passing legislation to bring our groundbreaking climate leadership plan to life," said Government house leader Brian Mason
EDMONTON—Alberta’s climate change plan will be front and centre next week when politicians return to the legislature for the fall sitting.
Government house leader Brian Mason said there will legislation and new details on a variety of previously announced environmental initiatives.
“This fall we will continue passing legislation to bring our groundbreaking climate leadership plan to life,” Mason told reporters at the legislature.
“It’s a plan which diversifies our economy and creates new jobs while protecting our energy industry.
“It’s founded on the conviction that this province can be an environmental leader among the world’s energy producers.”
Premier Rachel Notley’s government is to introduce legislation to cap annual oilsands greenhouse gas emissions at 100 megatonnes.
There will be more details on the government’s pledge to end coal-fired electricity generation and introduce more renewable energy sources.
“We’ve set a target of ensuring 30 per cent of the province’s electricity comes from renewable sources like wind, hydro and solar by the year 2030,” said Mason.
“In this session, we will introduce legislation to shape the required framework to make that happen.”
Mason said the province will continue to fight for a pipeline to get Alberta’s oil a better price on global markets.
Parts of the climate change plan have already passed and will soon be put into practice. On Jan. 1, a broad-based carbon tax kicks in, raising prices of gas at the pumps and home heating bills.
Low and middle income Albertans will get some or all of that money back through rebates.
On the economic front, Mason said there will be an update on Alberta’s plan to create jobs.
There will also be two new tax credits to help spur and diversify the economy.
One credit will offer a 30 per cent credit to investors who put up venture capital for small businesses researching and developing in a variety of fields including digital animation, tourism, video post production, and interactive digital media.
The other credit will return 10 per cent of a corporation’s costs associated with buying capital assets, including machinery and buildings.
There will be changes to clarify and expand the ability of credit unions to loan to small and medium-sized businesses.
Mason said there will be more announcements on the province’s plan to broaden and improve education programs and opportunities.
The sitting begins Monday.
Mason said there will be about 15 bills introduced, with the sitting ending around Dec. 8.
“It’s going to be a very busy session,” he said.
The sitting comes against the backdrop of a province still in the economic doldrums due to the long-term slump in oil prices.
The slump has tossed tens of thousands of Albertans out of work and has ballooned the provincial budget deficit.
The deficit this year is projected to be $10.9 billion.
Opposition Wildrose Leader Brian Jean said his team will focus on the economy and the impact of the climate rules on it.
“Right now Albertans are very concerned about the economy, they’re very concerned about the carbon tax, and they’re very concerned about the accelerated shut-down of coal,” said Jean.
“People need to have jobs to have a better quality of life, and right now the policies of the NDP have seriously fettered our current economy and our future economy.”