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Taking Action Against Climate Change with Emissions Reduction Alberta


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As the climate conversation continues to expand in the public space, ambitious goals for reducing emissions are being communicated at regional and international levels. The burning of fossil fuels has substantially contributed to the build up of greenhouse gases (GHG) in our atmosphere, resulting in the climate changes currently impacting major industries, ecosystems, weather patterns, natural resources and biodiversity around the world. According to Climate Change in Alberta, “97% of climate scientists now agree that human activity is responsible for most temperature increases over the past 250 years.”

In Alberta, over 50% of GHG emissions are the result of “industrial, manufacturing and construction activity, as well as producing the electricity we consume … the remainder comes from heating our homes and businesses, transportation and from agriculture, forestry and municipal waste” (1). As a part of a multi-level provincial strategy aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Alberta, the government currently partners with various organizations and funds a number of programs designed to accelerate emissions reduction initiatives and technology development. 

One Alberta organization that has played a significant role in furthering emissions reduction in our province for more than a decade is Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA), based in Edmonton. 

Established in 2009, Emissions Reduction Alberta “takes action on climate change and supports economic growth by investing in the pilot, demonstration and deployment of clean technology solutions that reduce GHGs, lower costs and attract investment, and create jobs in Alberta.” For more than 10 years, ERA has been facilitating Alberta’s transition to a low carbon economy by supporting and furthering the most innovative approaches to emissions reduction.

“Alberta’s industries have ambitious goals around emissions reductions that can’t be achieved without deploying new technology,” says Steve MacDonald, CEO of Emissions Reduction Alberta, “Our goal is to identify and accelerate the innovation Alberta needs to grow the economy and cut emissions.” 

Steve MacDonald – CEO of Emissions Reduction Alberta 

ERA’s funding comes from the carbon price paid by large final emitters in Alberta. With this funding, ERA operates a challenge structure that calls innovative companies to respond to pertinent industry challenges with original solutions. “Challenges are always well over-subscribed,” says MacDonald. “This gives us the ability to really select the best of the best and get a good understanding of the range of ideas that are out there.” 

To date, ERA has invested $607 million in the development of 183 unique projects dedicated to reducing emissions across various industries. ERA funding is leveraged and for every dollar invested by the organization, another $6.40 is invested by industry, innovators and other project funders. As a result, the total value of these projects is over $4 billion. ERA estimates this will lead to a total reduction of 34,800,000 tonnes of CO2e by the year 2030.

In October 2019, ERA announced their Natural Gas Challenge, a campaign committed to improving cost competitiveness and reducing emissions in Alberta’s natural gas sector. On July 21, 2020, ERA pledged $58.4 million to the 20 winning projects, valued at over $155 million. According to ERA, these projects will create 760 new jobs and, “if successful, these technology innovations will lead to cumulative GHG reductions of almost one million tonnes of CO2e by 2030 – equivalent to the GHG emissions from 750,000 passenger vehicles driven for one year.” 

Moving forward, the ERA expects to see the first round of Expression of Interest for their latest $40 million Food, Farming and Forestry Challenge by August 27, 2020. In the meantime, the organization will continue to focus on aiding Alberta’s economic recovery through diversification and job creation, and the pursuit of innovation. 

“We are supporting the actions required to help Alberta achieve its economic and environmental goals,” says MacDonald. “Our investments are making a real difference; one that is fundamental to Alberta’s future success. From incremental change to game-changers, we are developing the solutions Alberta and the world need.”

To learn more about Emissions Reduction Alberta, visit 


For more stories, visit Todayville Calgary.


New surveillance teams led by the Alberta Sheriffs working with local police in rural communities

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More boots on the ground to fight rural crime

Rural crime continues to be a top concern among residents and businesses in rural Alberta, which is why Alberta’s government remains committed to addressing it through enhanced surveillance and other crime reduction initiatives. Alberta’s government invested $4.3 million for the Alberta Sheriffs to put more boots on the ground. This investment supported the establishment of two plainclothes teams – one in northern Alberta and one in southern Alberta – to support police in carrying out surveillance on criminal targets in rural areas.

Both teams are now fully staffed and operational, ready to fight crime in rural areas across Alberta. These rural surveillance teams will work to prevent crime, monitor agricultural theft and work in collaboration with local law enforcement to share intelligence and resources to keep Albertans and their property safe and secure.

“Criminals and organized crime are not welcome in Alberta. Full stop. The addition of two new surveillance teams will further support our law enforcement partners in stamping out criminal activity in Alberta’s rural areas. This is about supporting local investigations to address local crime in our smaller communities. Together, both teams will form another key component of Alberta’s efforts to combat crime and ensure Albertans feel safe at home and in their communities, regardless of where they live.”

Mike Ellis, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Services

The Alberta Sheriffs have an existing surveillance unit that is part of the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT) and focused mainly on serious and organized crime investigations. The new surveillance teams will fill a gap by helping rural RCMP detachments with local investigations.

“Through their specialized knowledge, training and experience, Alberta’s new surveillance teams are providing another important mechanism in the fight against crime in Alberta’s rural communities. Working in close collaboration with the RCMP and other policing agencies, their efforts will play a key role in gathering evidence and information that will help disrupt crime throughout the province.”

Mike Letourneau, superintendent, Alberta Sheriffs

“This announcement by the Alberta government and Minister Ellis is a positive step forward for the residents of Alberta, especially in rural areas. Targeting known criminals is a very effective way to reduce the level of crime taking place and will greatly assist the RCMP who have a vast area to police.”

Lance Colby, mayor, Town of Carstairs

“We are happy to hear about increased resources being allocated to assist our communities. Addressing rural crime is one of the top priorities of the Alberta RCMP, and our partners at the Alberta Sheriffs already play a vital role in keeping Albertans safe. The creation of these new surveillance teams will help augment our ongoing crime reduction strategies in Alberta communities, and we look forward to working with them going forward.”

Trevor Daroux, assistant commissioner, criminal operations officer, Alberta RCMP

The new surveillance teams are part of a suite of measures to expand the role of the Alberta Sheriffs and make Alberta communities safer. Other actions include the expansion of the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods (SCAN) unit – which uses legal sanctions and court orders to target problem properties where illegal activities are taking place – and the expansion of the RAPID Response initiative with funding for the Sheriff Highway Patrol to train and equip members to assist the RCMP with emergencies and high-priority calls.

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Start-up of Trans Mountain expansion ‘going very well’ as global buyers ink deals for Canadian crude

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A worker at Trans Mountain’s Burnaby Terminal. Photo courtesy Trans Mountain Corporation

From the Canadian Energy Centre

By Deborah Jaremko

Chinese refiner pays about US$10 more for oil off TMX compared to sales value in Alberta

Canada’s oil sands producers are “back in the limelight” for investors following completion of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, according to a report by Enervus Intelligence Research.

For the first time in the better part of a decade, there is now breathing room on the system to ship all of the oil producers are able to sell off the coast of B.C.

Up until this May, Trans Mountain was regularly overbooked. Not anymore.

The crude carrier Dubai Angel picked up the first shipment from the long-awaited expansion on May 22, setting sail for China and a customer of oil sands producer Suncor Energy.

Analysts estimate Trans Mountain loaded 20 vessels in June, compared to a pre-expansion average of five per month.

“You’re seeing multiple buyers. It’s going very well,” said Phil Skolnick, managing director of research with New York-based Eight Capital.

“You’re seeing the exact buyers that we always thought were going to show up, the U.S. west coast refineries and as well as the Asian refineries, and there was a shipment that went to India as well.”

The “Golden Weld” in April 2024 marked the mechanical completion and end of construction for the Trans Mountain expansion project. Photo courtesy Trans Mountain Corporation

Canadian crude in demand on the global market

Asian markets – particularly China, where refineries can process “substantial quantities” of extra heavy crude and bitumen – are now “opened in earnest” to Canadian oil, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in its June Oil 2024 report.

“There’s demand for this crude and people are going to make deals,” said Kevin Birn, chief analyst of Canadian oil markets with S&P Global.

The IEA said Canadian crude will increasingly compete with heavy oil from other countries, particularly those in Latin America and the Middle East.

June’s loading of 20 vessels is slightly lower than the 22 vessels Trans Mountain had targeted, but Skolnick said a few bumps in the project’s ramp-up are to be expected.

“About three months ago, the shippers were telling investors on their calls, don’t expect it to be a smooth ramp up, it’s going to be a bit bumpy, but I think they’re expecting by Q4 you should start seeing everyone at peak rates,” Skolnick said.

Delivering higher prices

Trans Mountain’s expanded Westridge Terminal at Burnaby, B.C. now has capacity to load 34 so-called “Aframax” vessels each month.

One of the first deals, with Chinese refiner Rongsheng Petrochemical, indicates the Trans Mountain expansion is delivering on one of its expected benefits – higher prices for Canadian oil.

Canada’s Parliamentary Budget Office has said that an increase of US$5 per barrel for Canadian heavy oil over one year would add $6 billion to Canada’s economy.

The June deal between Rongsheng and an unnamed oil sands shipper saw a shipment of Access Western Blend (AWB) purchased for approximately US$6 per barrel below the Brent global oil benchmark. That implies an AWB selling price of approximately US$75 per barrel, or about US$10 more than the price received for AWB in Alberta.

Expanded export capacity at the Trans Mountain Westridge Terminal. Photo courtesy Trans Mountain Corporation

More pipeline capacity needed

Oil sands production – currently about 3.4 million barrels per day – is projected to rise to 3.8 million barrels per day by the end of the decade before declining slightly to about 3.6 million barrels per day in 2035, according to the latest outlook by S&P Global.

“Despite the recent completion of the Trans Mountain Expansion project, additional capacity will still be needed, likely via expansion or optimization of the existing pipeline system,” wrote Birn and S&P senior research analyst Celina Hwang in May.

“By 2026, we forecast the need for further export capacity to ensure that the system remains balanced on pipeline economics.”

Uncertainty over the federal government’s proposed oil and gas emissions cap “adds hesitation” to companies considering large-scale production growth, wrote Birn and Hwang.

Global oil demand rising

World oil demand, which according to the IEA reached a record 103 million barrels per day in 2023, is projected to continue rising despite increased investment in renewable and alternative energy.

June outlook by the International Energy Forum (IEF) pegs 2030 oil demand at nearly 110 million barrels per day.

“More investment in new oil and gas supply is needed to meet growing demand and maintain energy market stability, which is the foundation of global economic and social well-being,” said IEF secretary Joseph McMonigle.

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