Alberta’s chance to reinvent itself as low-carbon resource-based economic powerhouse will require significant infrastructure investments
The Council for Clean Capitalism hosted a meeting between two dozen industry leaders and the Alberta Government on Friday, September 18th.
A summary of major points covered:
- It was well acknowledged that we are living in different world with lower oil prices for the foreseeable future.
- Alberta’s failure to act on climate leadership has hurt both access to markets and access to capital.
- Now is a unique opportunity to modernize, and time is of the essence.
- If Alberta does not act, a solution will likely be imposed.
- The Alberta Government has appointed three wise men to help: Former Governor of The Bank of Canada David Dodge to develop an infrastructure plan, University of Alberta economist Andrew Leach to lead the Climate Change Panel, and ATB CEO Dave Mowat to head up the Royalty Review panel. The importance of coordinating these three was underlined.
- The electricity executives estimated that a rapid decarbonization of Alberta’s grid would cost in the order an additional one penny per Kwh.
- There was general agreement that decarbonizing the electricity grid can be done with well established options, none of which are on the “bleeding edge.”
- The Minister of Environment spoke about the “orchid of low hanging fruit” in regard to energy efficiency.
- There was consensus on the value of mandatory building labeling, required reporting for energy use by buildings, and providing low cost financing through a PACE mechanism for retrofitting to overcome the principal agent problem.
- The investment sector made clear that Alberta was missing out on investments due to a lack of transparency around environmental impacts.
- Partial loan guarantees provided by the Province was identified as one helpful policy lever to increase deployment of capital in support of the transition to a low carbon economy.
- The insurance sector underlined that Alberta is the canary in the coal mine on climate change impacts and that Alberta would be wise to start pricing these risks properly.
- There was a shared sentiment that Alberta must be careful not to try to “boil the ocean” but instead focus on a few important levers: best-in-continent carbon pricing with a trigger mechanism linked to oil prices, energy efficiency measures and infrastructure were identified as good areas to focus on.
A comment piece by Toby Heaps in the Edmonton Journal and captures a synthesis of the fiscal and infrastructure components to help Alberta become a low-carbon resource-based economic powerhouse.