As tension between the provinces and Ottawa mounts over climate policies, a meeting between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Alberta Premier Danielle Smith confirmed ongoing delays in reducing the country's greenhouse gas emissions.

Dressed in their finest Calgary Stampede clothes, Trudeau and Smith held a brief press conference Friday afternoon to announce a working group between the federal and Alberta governments would be set up to discuss three areas driving a wedge between the two sides.

The three areas of focus are the proposed federal regulation to cap oil and gas sector emissions, the federal goal to have a clean electricity grid by 2035, and a section of the Paris Agreement called Article 6 that allows for emissions reduction credits to be traded across borders. No other details of the working group were disclosed, but Trudeau described it as a way to share what federal and provincial experts believe in an attempt to find “common ground.”

“There's lots of things to work through. I can say there's been a really positive and constructive working relationship between our ministers and our folks from the very beginning, so we're looking forward to keeping up on that,” he said.

Smith said she hoped to find agreement through this process, too, but also made her red lines clear. Essentially, she wants federal targets delayed and for Alberta to get emissions reduction credits for exporting fossil fuels — the primary driver of climate change.

She said Ottawa’s goal of a net-zero power grid by 2035 is “not possible.” The proposed cap on oil and gas sector emissions that would achieve a 42 per cent reduction by 2030, she said, was “essentially a production cap, which we don’t think is realistic or feasible.”

Also, “we would like to be able to work with our partner in British Columbia … in order to be able to reduce emissions and get credits here through [liquified natural gas] LNG export,” she said.

On the clean power grid front, recent research from the Pembina Institute and the University of Alberta found massive decarbonization efforts to its electricity grid would be $22 billion to $28 billion cheaper than previous analyses suggest, thereby saving Albertans hundreds of dollars on their bills. Moreover, the research explains Alberta’s grid has “already decarbonized faster than anyone anticipated,” noting that in 2015, the province committed to phasing out coal by 2030 and is on track to be off coal by the end of 2023.

“Alberta really does have the renewable energy advantage here,” said Pembina Institute acting director of oil and gas Janetta McKenzie. “More than three-quarters of wind and solar built in Canada last year was in Alberta, so the province is pretty well positioned to become the renewable energy capital of Canada.”

As tension between the provinces and Ottawa mounts over climate policies, a meeting between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Alberta Premier Danielle Smith confirmed ongoing delays in reducing the country's greenhouse gas emissions.

McKenzie also says a strong cap on oil and gas sector emissions “actually helps support the sector given some of the global trends we’re seeing.” She pointed to recent forecasts from the Canada Energy Regulator (CER) that show demand for oil and gas falling as net-zero policies are implemented and cited environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals that companies and countries are adopting as evidence the energy transition is already underway.

“Within the context of those trends, this cap can help prepare the sector for the future and low-carbon economy by providing targets to help keep emissions within the increasingly stringent ESG demands of investors and our trading partners,” she said. “The sector has the technology and the funds to get started, so there is a sense in which this emissions cap is just kick-starting the emissions reductions that need to happen to be competitive in the energy transition.”

Smith’s view that Alberta should get credit for emissions reductions abroad by exporting LNG is unsupported by science. While true that burning gas is cleaner than burning coal, gas is still a fossil fuel that must be phased out to avoid catastrophic global warming. Her argument is essentially that if gas extracted from Alberta can be used to displace coal-fired power plants in another country, then Alberta should get credit for the emission reduction.

“While there may be some appetite from British Columbia and Alberta to pursue these sorts of international credits, it's not clear that would be doable given the international system as it stands now, and it's also not clear that other countries would be willing to enter into agreements with us on those,” McKenzie said.

The CER forecasts also show demand for natural gas and LNG declining as the world takes action to slash greenhouse gas emissions. And because it is well understood that extracting gas emits a lot of methane –– a greenhouse gas roughly 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide over the first 20 years, making it a priority in efforts to reach net zero by 2050 –– wanting to get credit for exporting it is simply not aligned with what climate scientists say must happen to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Trying to secure credit for LNG exports is “a pretty difficult negotiation to have with our trading partners, who may not be onside or may want several strings attached for entering into an agreement like that,” McKenzie explained. “Whereas we know wind and solar are cheaper than gas-fired electricity in many parts of the country, we know that technology is available now, we know there are things we can do to accelerate the energy transition that work now.”

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Excellent analysis here:
"Getting emissions credits for LNG exports a myth that refuses to die" (Edmonton Journal)

Amazing ventriloquist act. Danielle Smith opens her mouth and waves her arms around, but the O&G industry does the talking.

Industry-lobbyist Danielle Smith's, Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad climate plan.
A climate plan where fossil fuels sideline renewables, not the other way around.
The only future the fossil industry can imagine is a fossil-fuel future.
As long as the fossil-fuel industry dictates our climate plan, we don't have a climate plan.

What if LNG is additional to coal instead of replacing it? Does that add to Canada's total?
What if LNG displaces future builds of hydro, renewables, and nuclear? Does that add to Canada's total?
Suncor and U.S. refineries export petcoke from Alberta's oilsands to developing nations as a cheap substitute for coal. Does that add to Canada's total?

LNG is not a climate solution. Fossil gas burns cleaner than coal, but no improvement on the climate front if fugitive emissions exceed a low threshold.
As all studies using actual measurements show, emissions from Canada's O&G operations are far higher than reported.

Most (84%) Canadian fossil gas production is fracked. Fracking releases large amounts of methane. Worse for the climate than coal.
"'Clean' natural gas is actually the new coal, report says" (CBC)

Emissions from production (fracking) and processing, transport, liquefaction, shipping, and regasification doom LNG as a bridge fuel.

IEA's Net-Zero by 2050 report says no new investment in fossil fuels after 2021 to limit global warming to 1.5 C.
Canada's fossil-fuel leaders, including Trudeau, are banking on disaster.

Canada is a high per cavity carbon producing country. Third world countries are low per capita carbon producing countries. Trudeau is charging Canadians $thousand in carbon taxes to reduce Canada's carbon emissions. Can someone please explain how bringing millions of third world immigrants into Canada will reduce Canada's carbon emissions. Thanks. I am sure I will get many replies form the climate activists.

Len Van Den Bosch wrote: "Canada is a high per cavity carbon producing country."
Indeed. Dental office emissions are going through the roof. Composite resin fillings are made from acrylic, a type of plastic. Five carbon atoms (C5O2H8).

Yes, Canada could reduce its emissions faster if it barred the doors to immigration and locked the gates. But why stop at new immigrants? Why not deport the old ones? Say, everybody whose ancestors arrived after 1492. That would really help cut Canada's emissions.

The key driver of emissions, global warming, resource consumption, and our other environmental problems is wealth, not population.

The top 10% of emitters are responsible for almost half of global emissions.
The top 20% of emitters are responsible for 70% of emissions.
The poorest half of the global population are responsible for only 10% of global emissions.
"Extreme Carbon Inequality" (Oxfam, 2 Dec 2015)

2021 Update: "Carbon emissions of richest 1% more than double those of poorest half of the world" (Oxfam, 2021)
Between 1990 and 2015 the carbon emissions of the richest 1% were more than double those of the 3 billion people who made up the poorest half of humanity.
The richest 10% (c 630 million people) accounted for over half (52%) of the CO2 emissions. The richest 1% accounted for 15% of emissions – more than twice that of the poorest half of humanity (7%).

So the real solution is not to bar the gates to new immigrants but to deport the rich. Or, failing that, cut their emissions and extravagant consumption. Keep immigrants coming, but crack down on the wealthy, especially the top 10% and 1%.

P.S. With rebate, my household comes out ahead with the federal carbon-pricing scheme (levy, not a tax).
With "economic" (income) impacts factored in, the average Alberta household in the bottom 40% of income earners still comes out ahead ($370 this year, $327 in 2030-31, as per PBO).

Geoffrey had a very good response to your querry, especially on the rebate. Evidently the revenue neutrality characteristic of the CT escapes many anti-tax critics, even those who should know better like Poilievre, who has an army of young taxpayer-funded researchers a snap of his dainty, uncalloused, squeaky clean non-working class fingers away.

The key is to bring down Canadian's high per capita emissions by at least half, somewhere close to Northern European levels, preferably much lower. AB and SK are dragging the rest of the nation's progress on lowering emissions down. Many would like to punish the laggards, but the evidence indicates that international market forces will do that for them through offering affordable alternatives to fossil fuels, ergo demand destruction.

Reducing per capita emissions would accommodate population increases through immigration to counter our low birthrate and to build a more self-sufficient domestic economy less reliant on high carbon exports and imports.

As for teaming up with BC, Victoria recently announced a policy that will promote independent renewable power producers to sell to BC Hydro, which in turn is able to export low emission power beyond its borders. First Nations will no doubt dust off old plans to build huge solar and wind farms on their lands, as well as large scale offshore wind projects by the private sector, similar to the Naikun project cancelled a few years back.

Personally, I'd like to see BCH cancel their plans to arbitrarily reduce their net metering credit by 60% next year and willingly accommodate tens of thousands of rooftop solar projects by home owners and businesses. If Hydro thinks it needs to charge for the use of its transmission grid (and ignore the fact that the cost of rooftop solar generation is covered independently) then sure, keep 10% of the credit.

Kind of ironic now to think that Ed Stelmach was called "Special Ed."
You do have to give Trudeau credit for even showing up here.