Alberta Premier Danielle Smith continues to butt heads with Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault after he recently said that the federal government would not be backing down from its planned emissions cap for 2035.
Smith believes that Guilbeault’s comments are a display of “utter contempt” for the province, according to the Edmonton Journal.
Recently, Suncor CEO Rich Kruger stated that the oil company was going to be making a “revised direction and tone” which would put more focus towards traditional oil sands projects and move away from what he felt was a “disproportionate” focus on the longer-term, low-emitting and renewable fuel projects, built to coincide with the energy transition.
While giving an interview with The Canadian Press at the Liberal cabinet retreat in P.E.I., Guilbeault responded to Kruger’s remarks by saying, “To see the leader of a great Canadian company say that he is basically disengaging from climate change and sustainability, that he’s going to focus on short-term profit, it’s all the wrong answers.”
He also said that Kruger’s decision was coming at a time when “tens of thousands of Canadians” were being forced to leave their home as a result of wildfires.
“If I was convinced before that we needed to do regulation, I am even more convinced now,” said Guilbeault.
On Wednesday, Premier Smith stated in a media release that while her government was not in opposition to Ottawa’s climate change goals except that “under no scenario will the Government of Alberta permit the implementation of the proposed federal electricity regulations or contemplated oil and gas emissions cap.”
“We would strongly suggest the federal government refrain from testing our government’s or Albertans’ resolve in this regard,” stated the release.
Smith’s statement said that Alberta will continue to work with both federal and provincial groups to achieve a carbon-neutral economy by 2050.
“However, this must be done in a collaborative and respectful fashion without minister Guilbeault’s continued threats to the economic well-being of Albertans and Canadians.”
On Wednesday, a spokesperson for Guilbeault’s office said that Smith has taken his words out of context and that Guilebeault’s focus was on capping emissions, not production.
Suncor is among six major oil sands companies which are part of the Pathways Alliance, an association partnered in innovating carbon-capture technology in an effort to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
The spokesperson for Guilbeault said that he was surprised that Kruger would make comments that represent a departure from the goals of Pathways Alliance.
“I don’t think in 2023 you can be a good corporate citizen and not play your role.” said Guilbeault, who is set to publish a draft of what the new regulations will look like to cap emissions coming from oil and gas production.
In 2021, Canada’s oil and gas made up 28% of the country’s total emissions and 13% of that came from oilsands.
Guilbealt has yet to announce what the first cap will be but the emissions reduction plans published in 2022 called for a reduction of over 40% to oil and gas by 2030.
When the proposed measures were initially tabled, Alberta opposed them, vowing that the province would go at it alone, if necessary.
“Alberta will chart its own path to ensuring we have additional reliable and affordable electricity brought onto our power grid,” said Smith, while adding that her government has a plan to create “a reliable and affordable carbon-neutral grid by 2050.”
“This is the direction Alberta is going. We invite the federal government to support us, rather than hinder us, in doing so.” said Smith.
Alberta is not the only province that believes the federal government’s 2035 target is not possible, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan have all echoed a similar sentiment.
Earlier this month, Alberta Environment Minister Rebecca Schulz said in an interview with Postmedia that Ottawa potentially using tax credits to aid its 2035 timeline was also an issue.
“Coming out with a veiled, or just a straight-up threat that if provinces don’t sign on to a net-zero grid by 2035, that they’re not going to be able to access these tax credits … that’s no way to start a conversation,” said Schulz.