Alberta unveiled a suite of new greenhouse gas emission-reduction programs Monday, each targeted at resuscitating a flailing economy and reducing emissions across industries from oil and gas to forestry and agriculture.
Close to $280-million in federal and provincial cash will go to the three programs. All will be overseen by Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA), an arm’s-length agency that uses cash from the province’s carbon tax on large emitters to fund GHG-reduction projects.
Alberta announced in September it would drain its $750-million environmental piggy bank – the Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) fund – to pay for a host of programs it hopes will help the province climb out of a fiscal and employment hole caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and a dramatic drop in oil prices.
The programs announced Monday are the beneficiaries of $180-million from that move, with an additional $100-million coming from Ottawa’s Low Carbon Economy Fund.
One of the three programs will get $150-million for projects that use clean technology, such as carbon capture and storage, at large industrial sites.
Emissions Reduction Alberta chief executive officer Steve MacDonald said Monday money will go to projects that have the highest potential to create economic stimulus and improved environmental outcomes.
Cash will be available for companies ready to implement new clean technologies at both greenfield and brownfield operations, but projects must begin within 60 days of funding approval. New and early stage projects that have stalled because of the current economic situation are also eligible to apply.
Another $55-million will go to a program to help businesses upgrade heating and insulation, and fund other emissions-reduction measures. The third program will get $75-million to help businesses partner with private-sector funding for projects in energy efficiency, hydrogen, geothermal and natural gas.
Since 2009, ERA has invested more than $600-million in 185 projects. Cash for each project is matched by public and private partners, which has so far brought the total value for those projects to more than $4.4-billion. Together, they are on track to deliver cumulative GHG emission reductions close to 35 million tonnes by 2030.
Jonathan Wilkinson, federal Environment and Climate Change Minister, said the cash injection from Ottawa would help create jobs and build a cleaner, more sustainable economy.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said the new programs would help “ensure a strong future” for Alberta’s energy sector and reduce emissions through “smart investments in technology.”
Oil prices dipped once again last week, after months of an unstable recovery after their historic negative-pricing lows in April.
Mr. Kenney said Monday there’s no telling when oil and the global economy as a whole will begin to recover from the pandemic-induced crash, but said “at some point, stability will return, growth will recover, demand for energy will go up and supply will be constrained.”
The Alberta Premier cited OPEC’s recent World Oil Outlook, released early last month. It projected that global energy demand will continue to grow in the medium- and long-term – increasing by 25 per cent to 2045 – despite the large drop in 2020.
“We are optimistic in the midterm about a strong recovery in oil prices,” he said.
Alberta has experienced a glimmer of hope outside of oil, most notably strong prices for natural gas and lumber, and record yields in agriculture.
Still, Mr. Kenney acknowledged “those things will not undo the damage of the largest ever absolute collapse in oil prices.”
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