Alberta's former energy minister, Sonya Savage, who was under the Jason Kenney administration, says she is 'really pleased' to see Premier Danielle Smith adopt a 'climate change strategy' to keep Ottawa 'in its lane.'
On April 19, the UCP released a climate plan scarce in detail. While it outlined its intent to reach 'net-zero' by 2050, the province had no timelines or interim targets.
According to the former minister, Alberta will consider lowering the cap on oilsands emissions if practical. She said her ministry would also consider using more renewable fuels to cut methane emissions by 80% — slightly better than the federal target.
Despite scaling up carbon capture, the plan fails to propose regulations or legislation to move the province toward 'net-zero.'
Savage told The Canadian Press in April that there's no point having those until the homework is done. She 'makes no apologies' despite critics condemning the strategy as a 'plan to make a plan.'
Ottawa's climate modelling from Budget 2021 forecasted a national emissions reduction of 36% below 2005 levels — the benchmark year for Canada's 2030 climate targets per the Paris Climate Accord.
However, the 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan (ERP) pledged to meet Canada's 2030 target, projecting 31% fewer emissions below 2005 levels in 2030.
Both targets fall short of the federal government's commitment to reducing emissions by 40% to 45% over the next decade.
"The question isn't whether you legislate the targets. It's about having realistic pathways to get there and providing supportive policies," added Savage.
"It's about doing the hard work to find viable pathways to get [to net zero]," she told The Canadian Press.
"Behind the scenes, they're working on sector-by-sector technology pathways and costing it out, finding how far and how fast we can go without undermining the economy or creating targets where we don't have the technology to get there."
The Canada Climate Institute estimates Canada's 2021 carbon emissions at 691 megatonnes, owing to activity across various sectors and oil and gas production levels.
Statistics Canada and Simon Fraser University's Canadian Energy and Emissions Data Centre data show that Canada produced 738 megatonnes of carbon emissions before the COVID pandemic.
Though Canada did not fully reopen in 2021, the institute concluded that the economy grew more rapidly than its emissions, suggesting Canada can grow its economy responsibly moving forward.
Its report said emissions fell 2% per unit of GDP compared to 2020, estimating that emissions have declined below 2005 levels in all sectors except oil and gas, transport and buildings.
According to the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO), the real GDP for oil and gas and transportation will fall under these targets by 10.8% and 16.2% by 2030, respectively.
In a media interview last month, Smith concurred that if Alberta can keep a target of reaching carbon neutrality by 2050, "we will be perfectly in sync."
"Don't try to accelerate if the technology isn't there and the timeline is too fast," she said.
In her mandate letter to Environment Minister Rebecca Schulz, the premier asked the member to pursue further studies into carbon neutrality, develop and trade carbon credits to reduce industrial emissions and defend Alberta's energy interests from federal overreach.
Savage said this makes Alberta increasingly well-positioned for a changing world after admitting the party was "just waking up to it" four years ago.
"I think Alberta's well placed," she said, attributing Kenney's leadership for leaving the province well-prepared for the 'green economy.'
"[Kenney] spoke to each one of us, saying 'What does recovery look like after the pandemic?'" claimed Savage.
Hence, her pursuit of policies on critical minerals, the development of geothermal power and hydrogen, and further work on carbon capture and storage — all of whom she attributes to his vision.
"I was [sorry to see him go]. There was nobody who worked harder than Jason Kenney in trying to get Alberta to a place where it's competitive and attracting investment," said Savage.
"No other premier in our history has accomplished as much as he did."