Ka-boom or Ka-bust? Reaction to Alberta’s climate change plan

A sampling of the reaction to Alberta Premier Rachel Notley’s newly unveiled climate policy
Premier Rachel Notley unveils Alberta's climate strategy in Edmonton, Alberta, on Sunday, November 22, 2015. The new plan will include carbon tax and a cap on oilseeds emissions among other strategies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Amber Bracken
Premier Rachel Notley unveils Alberta’s climate strategy in Edmonton, Alberta, on Sunday, November 22, 2015. (Amber Bracken, The Canadian Press)

From Al Gore to Ezra Levant to several upbeat energy company CEOs, Alberta’s announcement of major policy shifts to fight climate change (and the province’s reputation) drew several Sunday policy sermons — most of them positive. Here is a sampling of the reaction

“We got a major wake-up call a few weeks ago in the form of a kick in the teeth from the government of the United States. Unfairly in my view, the President of the United States claimed that our production is some of the dirtiest oil in the world. That is the reputation that mistaken government policy in the past has earned for us.” — Alberta Premier Rachel Notley

“Congratulations @RachelNotley on unveiling Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan. A very positive step in the fight against climate change.” — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

“We think it’s a turning point for our province and our industry… For too long, we’ve been in a polarized debate about energy. This new collaborative approach proves that we can find common ground to protect our environment while ensuring we meet our collective need for energy in a sustainable way.” — Al Monaco, CEO of pipeline company Enbridge

“I think when we look back, we will see this will be a historic day, certainly for oilsands, I think for Alberta as well, and for Canada… You’ll see, and I don’t think we’ll be able to hide it, a great deal of pride on behalf of the companies and the NGOs… a great deal of pride that we start to take Canada in the right direction.” — Steve Williams, CEO of Suncor, Canada’s largest energy company

“This new carbon tax will make almost every single Alberta family poorer, while accelerated plans to shut down coal plants will lead to higher power prices and further jobs losses.” — Brian Jean, leader of Wildrose opposition

“I wanted to say a special shout-out to the young people I see seated right in front of the stage here… A big part of what we’ve done and the work that led up to today was for you.” — Ed Whittingham, of Pembina Institute environmental think-tank

“This is a strong, positive step in the right direction. We want to send a clear signal to Canadians and our partners around the world that Canada is back and ready to play our part. Premier Notley’s new plan for Alberta is a real and vital contribution to that effort.” — Catherine McKenna, federal environment minister

“The framework announced will allow ongoing innovation and technology investment in the oil and natural gas sector. In this way, we will do our part to address climate change while protecting jobs and industry competitiveness in Alberta.”— Murray Edwards, chair of Canadian Natural Resources Ltd.

“Still more to be done, but the days of infinite growth in the tarsands are over.” — Greenpeace Canada

“Where did the Alberta government get the idea that Alberta families had an extra $900 lying around they didn’t want? This carbon tax is kicking Albertan families and businesses when they’re down.” — Paige MacPherson, Alberta director for Canadian Taxpayers Federation

“The closing of these plants will do more to save lives than I could ever hope to achieve as a physician working in an emergency room.” — Dr. Joe Vipond, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment

“Alberta is one of the highest cost jurisdictions in the world to operate. The introduction of new carbon taxes, unless offset by lower royalties, has effectively reduced Alberta’s competitiveness and future employment through additional costs.” — Mark Scholz, Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors

“Training and transitions for workers will be critical to the success of Alberta’s climate action plan. The report is very sensitive to the fact that each community is different, and that there will be ongoing research and dialogue about caring for impacted workers. Premier Notley was clear that no one will be left behind.” Joie Warnock, western director for Unifor

“Alberta’s new climate strategy, combined with a new federal government that is a true climate change partner for the provinces and territories, positions Canada to enter the Paris conference with a united voice. This unity is a departure from the past. As evidenced by Premier Notley’s climate strategy, the united Canadian voice is one that is taking the swift and meaningful actions needed to fight climate change.” — Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne

“I am pleased to see they’ve adopted a number of strategies we recommended. That said, I am concerned about the scale of the carbon price and the fact the plan is not truly revenue neutral – it still comes at a cost to the average Albertan.” — Greg Clark, leader of Alberta Party, a centrist opposition group

“This marks an important change of direction for Alberta that could pave the way for a more climate-friendly national policy. While more will be needed to reduce the impacts of tar sands extraction on our climate, the Boreal forest and First Nations communities, Alberta’s announcement represents a strong first step in transitioning the province from tar sands toward a sustainable economy based on clean energy.” — Anthony Swift of Natural Resources Defense Council, a major U.S. environmental group

“As Premier Notley said today, we expect today’s announcement to further enhance the reputation of our sector and improve our province’s environmental credibility as we seek to expand market access nationally and internationally. As well, the province’s climate strategy may allow our sector to invest more aggressively in technologies to further reduce per barrel emissions in our sector and do our part to tackle climate change. That’s what the public expects, and that’s what we expect of ourselves.” — Tim McMillan, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers

“Alberta’s climate plan is a big step in the right direction for a province that has spent so long on the wrong side of climate action. But, we still have a long way to go to reach the kind of climate leadership that Canada needs to meet our obligation to 2 degrees C … It’s 2015, the measure of climate leadership is no longer setting a target for how much carbon you’ll put in the air but legislating based on science and keeping fossil fuels in the ground.” — Cameron Fenton, Canadian Tar Sands Organizer with

“Today’s announcement by Premier Notley … represents an inspiring addition to the legacy of leadership and forward thinking action by Canadian provinces to speed our transition to a low carbon economy. This is also another powerful signal — well-timed on the eve of the Paris negotiations — that humanity is beginning to win our struggle to solve the climate crisis.We do need to win faster. I encourage Premier Notley, and all of Alberta, to follow this first step with continued bold action to transition away from fossil fuels.” — Al Gore, former U.S. vice president, once complared oilsands extraction to how “junkies find veins in their toes.”

“What’s critically important is that the Premier has committed to an orderly transition that ensures system reliability and price stability for our customers, given that it is now certain that coal-fired generation will be phased out by 2030, and that the province’s policies will not unnecessarily strand capital. This is a positive, timely and important step forward.” — Dawn Farrell, CEO of TransAlta, a major player in Alberta coal power.

“Rachel Notley just announced a massive, job-killing carbon tax. It’s a made-in-Alberta version of Trudeau’s National Energy Program … It’s a full-out NDP war on Alberta’s jobs. Some of the big companies will be able to survive — Notley announced she had the support of several oil companies. Sure she did — partly because of Stockholm Syndrome. They’re hostages, who can’t move their operations elsewhere.” — Ezra Levant, The Rebel

“Her climate action plan may be the most radical policy shift ever seen in this province. It seeks to re-engineer an entire economy into something entirely different, by gradually shrinking the main energy drivers and raising up whole new industries to take their place … It’s a one-two-three punch on top of higher corporate and income taxes, all of this rolled out to a sinking economy, with the long-term promise of vibrant and sustainable new industries.” — Don Braid, Calgary Herald columnist

“The plan should not be controversial because it is based on science and negotiations and all kinds of goodwill, not to mention the fact it is long overdue.” — Graham Thomson, Edmonton Journal columnist

“Judging from the number of oilsands leaders who lined up along side premier Rachel Notley for the announcement… the oilsands industry got itself a deal it can live with. The rest of the province will have to stomach higher prices across the board, a government-mandated overhaul of the economy that will pick new winners and losers and is sure to have ugly consequences, a redistribution of income from high carbon users to low carbon users.” — Claudia Cattaneo, National Post columnist

“The premier then comes up with a new definition of revenue neutral. Since $3 billion (carbon tax revenue) is staying in the economy and not going into the province’s coffers and not being spent on the province’s budget challenges, the government isn’t really taking more cash. Does anyone have an Advil?” — Rick Bell, Calgary Sun columnist

With files from The Canadian Press