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Premier Smith negotiates publicly with PM Trudeau: cancel ‘just transition’ and collaborate on carbon capture


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Letter from Premier Smith to Prime Minister Trudeau

Premier Danielle Smith invites Ottawa to collaborate with Alberta on carbon capture, utilization and storage investment and halt introduction of Just Transition legislation and oil and gas emissions cap.

Dear Prime Minister:

I am writing in follow up to our meeting of February 7th, during which we discussed the need for the Government of Canada to halt introduction of the proposed Just Transition legislation and implementation of unachievable targets and measures under the federal Emissions Reduction Plan (ERP) such as the Clean Electricity Regulations (CER) and oil and gas sector emissions cap.

As a much more productive alternative, I invited your government to agree to commencing a collaborative effort between Ottawa and Alberta to develop a series of cooperative initiatives to attract investment and workers into Alberta’s emerging, conventional and non-conventional energy sectors while substantially reducing Canada’s and Alberta’s net emissions.

In that meeting, you expressed a willingness to pursue this course of collaborative action, but requested it be commenced promptly. The morning following my return to Alberta, I met with several of my ministers regarding this issue and can advise as follows.

The Government of Alberta is prepared to work with the federal government on a coordinated approach for a carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) incentive program for the purpose of net emissions reductions in our province while attracting billions in new investments for Alberta-based oil and gas projects, electricity, manufacturing and other sectors.

To this end, we propose coordinating a federal CCUS income tax credit with an expansion of our current Alberta Petrochemicals Incentive Program (APIP) to include CCUS projects. This new incentive program would be in addition to the over $1.8 billion already invested into CCUS projects across the province by the Government of Alberta as well as our province’s additional implicit contribution to CCUS made through our current royalty regime.

Our government is also willing to discuss with your government expanding this coordinated approach to incentivizing other emerging emission reducing technologies as well, though we suggest beginning with agreement on a coordinated CCUS incentive program, so we are able to establish a successful foundation on which to build upon.

To this end, I request that we immediately create a federal/provincial minister-led working group with the objective of reaching agreement on a coordinated provincial-federal CCUS incentive program in the coming weeks.

Prime Minister, I must make it clear that the above invitation for cooperation and collaboration on this CCUS proposal and other energy and climate initiatives comes with one non-negotiable condition.

It is that the federal government refrain from introducing any new federal legislation or policies that materially impact Alberta’s oil and gas resource development, management or workforce participation without the full involvement, consultation and consent of Alberta.

This includes the contemplated Just Transition legislation and implementation of unachievable targets and measures under the federal Emissions Reduction Plan (ERP) such as the Clean Electricity Regulations (CER) and oil and gas sector emissions cap.

Each of these initiatives, as currently understood, would pose an unconstitutional and existential threat to the Alberta economy and the jobs of hundreds of thousands of Albertans.

As an alternative to this policy package of economic destruction, Alberta proposes working collaboratively with the federal government on aggressively advancing emission reducing technologies in Alberta as outlined above while simultaneously increasing export of LNG through the lens of replacing higher emitting fuels around the world to meet aggressive but achievable overall emissions reduction in Alberta’s oil and gas and other sectors. Ideally, our government would like to incorporate these collaborative federal-provincial initiatives into our soon-to-be-released Alberta Emissions Reduction and Energy Development Plan.

I must once again emphasize to you, Prime Minister, that although Alberta is willing to work as an active partner with the federal government on a coordinated approach to reducing Alberta’s and Canada’s net emissions, under no circumstances will our province accept the imposition of arbitrary and unachievable targets or policies that spell the end of meaningful long-term investment in Alberta’s energy sector, and as a result, the imminent phase out of Alberta’s largest industry. In such circumstances, our government would have no other choice but to oppose these destructive policies using every tool at our disposal in order to protect Albertans, their jobs and our province’s future.

Prime Minister, this issue is far larger and more important than you or I. There are literally hundreds of billions in public revenues and investments, and millions of jobs, riding on Alberta and Ottawa working together – instead of in conflict – on energy and environmental issues to create an attractive and certain investment climate that millions around the world want to invest in and move to.

Failure to do so will not only undermine Canada’s prosperity by driving billions in energy investment and revenue out of Canada and into the hands of the world’s most brutal and undemocratic regimes, but will also result in increased energy poverty and food insecurity in many of the world’s most impoverished countries, a loss of our nation’s global influence, and most ironically, an increase in the world’s global emissions due to an increased use of coal, as opposed to LNG, by developing nations to meet increasing world demand for electricity.

Canada has the potential to become a global energy superpower with all of the economic and political influence for good that such standing would grant us. We can and must seize this opportunity without delay. Please come to the table and work collaboratively with Alberta on likely the most important economic issue facing this country in a generation.

I look forward to reading your response and to learning of the appointment of your government’s side of the federal/provincial minister-led working group for the CCUS incentive program so that our two governments can take our first steps in this critical collaborative effort.

This is a news release from the Government of Alberta.

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Canada under pressure to produce more food, protect agricultural land: report

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Canada’s agricultural land is under increasing pressure to produce more food as demand grows domestically and internationally, while the industry grapples with limited resources and environmental constraints, a new report found. 

“We need to grow more food on less land and in a volatile climate,” said Tyler McCann, managing director of the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute.

The report by the institute released Thursday looks at the pressures on Canada’s agricultural land to produce more food while also mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change, said McCann. 

Despite Canada being a big country, it doesn’t have as much agricultural land as people might think, said McCann, with the report noting that agricultural land makes up only around seven per cent of the country. 

Because of that, we can’t take what we do have for granted, he said. “We need to be really thoughtful about how we are using our agricultural land.” 

In 2020, Canada was the eighth largest country in terms of cropland area, the report said, with that cropland decreasing by seven per cent over the previous two decades. 

Canada is a major producer and net exporter of agriculture and agri-food products, the report said, exporting $91 billion in products in 2022, and one of the top 10 exporters of wheat, canola, pulses, pork and beef. 

In the coming years, Canada will face increased demand from countries whose populations are growing, the report said. 

“With population growth on one side and climate change on the other, Canada will be amongst an increasingly smaller number of countries that is a net exporter,” said McCann, noting that Canada’s own population is growing, and farmland also needs to be protected against urban sprawl. 

The wildfires clouding Canadian skies this week are a “vivid reminder” of the pressure that extreme weather and the changing climate are putting on the agricultural sector, said McCann. 

“We need to clearly mitigate … agriculture’s impact on climate change. But we also need to make sure agriculture is adapting to climate change’s impacts,” he said. 

One of the ways the world has responded to demand for increased agricultural production over time is to create more agricultural land, in some cases by cutting down forests, said McCann. But that’s not a viable option for Canada, which doesn’t have a lot of land that can be sustainably converted into farmland — and even if it could, doing so could have a variety of adverse environmental effects, he said. 

Some of the practices used to reduce emissions and sequester carbon in agriculture can also improve production output on existing farmland, the report found, such as precision agriculture and no-till practices.

However, intensifying the production of current agricultural land also comes with potential environmental downsides, the report said.

For example, McCann said fertilizer is an important part of sustainable agriculture, but there’s a balance to be struck because excessive use of fertilizer can quickly turn food production unsustainable. 

“We need to be a lot more thoughtful about the inputs that we’re using,” he said, adding the same can be said about the use of technology in agriculture and the policies and programs put in place to encourage sustainable intensification of Canadian agriculture. 

The report recommends that Canada adopt policies that provide financial incentives and technical assistance to farmers and develop regulatory frameworks promoting sustainable land use, as well as promoting education and awareness campaigns, so that the country can “ensure the long-term sustainability of its agricultural sector while protecting the environment.”  

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 8, 2023.

Rosa Saba, The Canadian Press

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Lawyer tells Alberta’s highest court review board biased in de Grood’s case

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