Alberta Premier Danielle Smith intends to defend Canadian crude at the upcoming UN climate conference — even if her federal counterparts won't find the courage to follow suit.
On September 14, Smith did not mince her words while speaking at the annual conference for Alberta's Industrial Heartland Association.
In front of business leaders and vital economic innovators, Smith unveiled plans to travel with Environment Minister Rebecca Schulz to the United Arab Emirates this fall.
"Together, we will prove the doubters and the naysayers wrong," she said. "The global energy transition will not leave behind Alberta."
In July, federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault made it clear he had a different vision for the future of Canadian energy.
"We can make COP28 the first COP to acknowledge the need to phase out unabated fossil fuels," he told reporters following a climate action meeting in Brussels.
Several European environment ministers concurred with the sentiment, calling for "an urgent phase out from fossil fuels" through a "rapid decline of fossil fuel production and use within this decade."
Smith expressed her disappointment with Guilbeault's comments and vehemently disparaged his aim to cut oil and gas production by 25% to achieve carbon neutrality.
"This does not align with any credible forecast of future world energy consumption, which continues to see oil and gas dominating the energy supply mix for decades to come," she said.
At COP28, Guilbeault wants to eliminate all fossil fuel projects that fail to reduce their carbon emissions.
He expects draft regulations to be ready for October at the earliest and "definitely" before the Dubai climate conference commencing November 30, as first reported by Bloomberg.
However, his quest for a 'green energy' utopia hit several snags over the summer — one being Alberta and his G20 allies.
On July 19, Guilbeault met with Schulz in Calgary to discuss Ottawa's push for a 'net-zero' electricity grid and their de facto production cap on oil and gas producers.
While Alberta aspires to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, the two governments must "agree on how we get there," said Schulz.
Alberta's environment minister suggested working with Ottawa to reduce emissions through carbon capture and storage (CCS).
"We need common sense, practical solutions, and innovative approaches that cut emissions and create jobs — not ideology," said Schulz.
Ottawa has since pledged $9.2 billion in tax credits for provinces and industries to utilize CCS throughout the next decade.
Schulz nor Guilbeault commented on whether either side reached a consensus then.
"We are rapidly reducing emissions, but Ottawa's goal for net zero by 2035 is overly ambitious and poses significant challenges for electricity reliability and affordability," said James Snell, spokesperson for the Alberta energy minister.
"Not only is this unconstitutional, given Alberta's clear jurisdiction in producing our resources. It would also result in a loss of jobs and a lower standard of living for Albertans."
Federal data indicates the oil and gas sector contributes immensely to Canada's economy, adding $175 billion to the country's GDP in 2017. It also created 276,000 direct jobs and up to 900,000 jobs indirectly — the employment source for 5% of Canadians.
But after meeting with Schulz, Guilbeault attended a G20 convention to push his 'green energy' transition.
However, he failed to make headway as other member states could not define "unabated" fossil fuels or clearly outline the role of CCS.
On September 12, Smith told delegates at the Carbon Capture Canada conference that Alberta believes CCS will aid the transition to a low-carbon economy.
"I think we've got a very compelling story to tell about what the future of this energy transition looks like," she said, intending to start a CCS provincial grant program before COP28.
According to the Canada Energy Regulator, Alberta's oil and gas sector produced 132.8 million tonnes of carbon emissions in 2020.
The province contends its two main taxpayer-supported CCS facilities can reduce emissions by "up to" 2.56 million tonnes per year.
Alberta has spent nearly $2 billion on CCS-related projects and programs.