Skip to main content

Alberta Alberta consolidates offices for climate-change policy, environmental monitoring

Alberta’s United Conservative government plans to eliminate its stand-alone offices for climate-change policy and environmental monitoring, a move some say will damage the province’s standing and its ability to make science-based plans.

“What’s going to suffer is Alberta’s international reputation [and] our overall approach to science and evidence-based decision making,” said New Democrat legislature member Shannon Phillips, who was environment minister in the previous government.

The intention is outlined in a Sept. 10 e-mail from Alberta Environment and Parks deputy minister Bev Yee, obtained by The Canadian Press.

Story continues below advertisement

Ms. Yee outlines a departmental re-organization under which the climate-change office created during Ms. Phillips’s tenure will disappear. So will the environmental monitoring and science division, initially created as an arm’s-length agency in 2014 by the provincial Progressive Conservative government and brought back into government by the New Democrats.

Both will be “integrated into the new structure,” Ms. Yee’s e-mail says.

“The primary drivers and intended outcomes of this reorganization include enhanced business integration, the achievement of efficiencies, and providing better support to achieve government priorities,” Ms. Yee wrote.

The changes are to be effective Oct. 15.

Alberta Environment did not provide an interview to explain the move.

In an e-mail, department spokeswoman Jess Sinclair said the climate-change office has been incorporated into Alberta Environment’s general policy effort “in order to ensure that [department] policy is developed with an eye to the overall management of pollution in the province.”

It wasn’t clear where the formerly separate monitoring office will end up.

Story continues below advertisement

Ms. Sinclair called the changes “a bureaucratic move” and said climate work will be done through the important policy office.

But Ms. Phillips said the moves downgrade both climate and monitoring policy.

“We no longer have a government that is interested in putting forward credible climate change policy or credible monitoring and science in the oil sands,” she said. “I have serious questions about the resourcing of environmental monitoring in the oil sands.”

Ms. Phillips suggested the change is a prelude to cuts.

“It’s easier to hide the cuts if they’re absorbed within the department.”

Environmental groups called the changes part of a pattern in Jason Kenney’s United Conservative government to roll back climate and environmental policies.

Story continues below advertisement

“If this government didn’t have a very clear agenda to stall climate action and harass environmental organizations, then I might be willing to consider this normal operations for a new government,” Catherine Abreu of Climate Action Network Canada said.

“[But] I can’t help but see the elimination of their climate department as part of their overall strategy.”

Since taking office in April, the Kenney government has eliminated Alberta’s carbon tax, cancelled programs encouraging renewable energy, launched a $30-million “war room” to fight what it calls misinformation and started a $2.5-million inquiry into an alleged conspiracy to landlock Alberta oil.

“This is what climate denial looks like when it’s in power,” said Keith Stewart of Greenpeace in an e-mail. “Disappearing the division won’t make the climate crisis go away.”

Ms. Sinclair said the moves are not an attempt to do less on environmental issues.

“Emissions management is a priority for this government,” she said.

Story continues below advertisement

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter