Alberta Environment Minister Rob Renner is jetting to Copenhagen next week in an attempt to persuade the world that the energy-rich province isn't Canada's environmental bad boy.
"It's not nearly the picture that has been painted for you," he told reporters yesterday. "We take our responsibility to the environment very seriously."
In the months leading up to the climate-change conference, environmentalists and some international media outlets have pointed to Alberta's oil sands as a worrisome and unacceptable source of global pollution.
Mr. Renner is eager to dispel that argument by speaking directly with conference delegates and reporters who have travelled to Copenhagen to cover the talks, which are aimed at reaching a new global agreement on controlling greenhouse gas emissions.
"I'm going to Copenhagen as a proud Albertan," he said. "Protesters and those who posture will use the grand stage at Copenhagen to launch low blows at our province.
"However, Alberta can hold its head high as a responsible major global energy producer already acting to make real greenhouse gas reductions."
Mr. Renner said Alberta shouldn't receive "any kind of special concessions" in Copenhagen, but neither should it be "singled out" over oil and gas activity in other jurisdictions such as Venezuela and California.
He also said Alberta, which has no official standing in Copenhagen, is hopeful the summit reaches an agreement that is signed and followed by all of the world's countries. Alberta's team at the conference will be part of a larger Canadian delegation led by federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice.
Simon Dyer, a Calgary-based oil sands program director for the Pembina Institute, said Mr. Renner will likely face a tough crowd in Copenhagen.
"[Alberta]just doesn't have a credible plan," Mr. Dyer said.
"Most people aren't looking for the oil sands to be shut down," he added. "They are looking for everyone to follow the same fair rules ... and it hasn't been shown how the oil sands fit into a regime where everyone does their fair share."