Notley stresses importance of environment in speech to Montreal business group

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says her government intends to do a much better job at living up to its responsibility to be part of the solution on climate change.

MONTREAL — Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says her government intends to do a much better job at living up to its responsibility to be part of the solution on climate change.

Notley says the only way to achieving economic goals is by getting it right on the environment.

She made the comments in a speech today to the Montreal Board of Trade.

The Alberta premier is on a week-long trip that will also take her to New York City and Toronto.

Notley said a climate-change review panel in Alberta will look at ways to phase out the use of coal as quickly as possible but without imposing unnecessary price shocks on consumers.

She noted that the province is heavily dependent on coal for its electricity, with 55 per cent of it coming from coal-fired plants.

“Air pollution and poor air quality is a direct threat to the health of our children and our seniors,” said Notley.

She also stressed the importance of renewable energy and energy efficiency.

“Alberta is the only jurisdiction in Canada without an energy efficiency program,” she said. “That is unacceptable, and we will change this.”

Notley also discussed the importance of addressing carbon pricing.

“The net price of carbon in Alberta has increased but still remains relatively low,” she said.

“But we have demonstrated that it is possible to act meaningfully on carbon pricing for sound economic and environmental reasons, without triggering economic hardship.

“We must do this, so that we have the means to diversify and broaden our economy in the years and decades to come, as the world evolves towards a decarbonized future.”

Her comments came a day after news of a report that said hiking Alberta’s carbon tax is the best way to reduce the province’s greenhouse gas emissions from power generation.

The government-funded analysis, which was obtained by The Canadian Press, said charging large emitters up to $50 a tonne for carbon emissions — an almost 70 per cent increase — would produce the best result.

But that price would also raise electricity costs more than any other option considered, the Brattle Group concluded.

The study, which has not been released publicly, was delivered to the province’s Energy Ministry and electrical regulator in July 2014, before the last provincial election. It is now before the climate-change panel, which is charged with designing an overall policy for Alberta in advance of international talks in Paris this December.