(Corrects that 100 million ton target refers to all oil sands
companies combined, 10th paragraph)
By Mike De Souza
CALGARY Nov 22 The Canadian province of
Alberta, home to the country's controversial oil sands, said on
Sunday it will implement an economy-wide tax on carbon emissions
in 2017, addressing long-standing criticism it is not doing
enough to combat climate change.
The provincial government estimated the plan, including a
pledge to phase out pollution from coal-fired electricity
generation by 2030 and a limit on emissions from the province's
oil sands industry, would generate C$3 billion ($2.25 billion)
in annual revenue.
Backed by prominent representatives from industry and the
environmental movement, Premier Rachel Notley said the province
was trying to do the right thing for the future.
Notley's left-leaning New Democratic Party took power
earlier this year, ending 44 years of Conservative rule.
"It will help us access new markets for our energy products,
and diversify our economy with renewable energy and energy
efficiency technology," Notley said in Edmonton. "Alberta is
showing leadership on one of the world's biggest problems."
Alberta has the world's third largest crude reserves, but
its oil sands industry is also Canada's fastest growing source
of greenhouse gas emissions.
That status has prompted fierce opposition from
environmental groups to proposed pipelines that would allow the
industry to access new markets, including the recently rejected
Keystone XL pipeline, proposed by TransCanada Corp.
U.S. President Barack Obama rejected that project on Nov. 6,
explaining that "shipping dirtier crude oil" into the United
States would not enhance the country's energy security.
Alberta's energy sector has also been hammered with
thousands of layoffs in recent months due to slumping global oil
The government said all oil sands operators would still be
allowed to increase their combined annual carbon pollution from
about 70 million tons to a maximum of 100 million tons per year
under proposed legislation.
It said this plan was endorsed by several major oil
companies, including Suncor Energy, Cenovus,
Canadian Natural Resources Ltd and the Canadian
division of Royal Dutch Shell Plc.
Environmental groups, including the Pembina Institute,
Forest Ethics and Environmental Defence Canada, also endorsed
the plan, the province said.
The province estimated its new plan would cost the average
household about C$320 per year in 2017 and C$470 per year in
Notley will bring her plan into a meeting of Canadian
premiers with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, to prepare Canada's
national strategy at the upcoming Paris climate change summit.
($1 = 1.3328 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting By Mike De Souza; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)