We need climate action that works for Alberta

It’s time for fresh perspectives on how to reach our climate goals in Alberta.

Albertans, like all Canadians, are worried about changes to our climate. Albertans care deeply about the environment. We’ve seen this in how people have mobilized for wind and solar and mobilized against coal mining in the Rockies.

But Albertans also oppose a consumer carbon tax – according to a recent Angus Reid poll, 68% of us – and are unmoved by the insistence the tax is revenue neutral (or even beneficial). This should give anyone who wants continued action on climate change and anybody who wants the Alberta NDP to be the next government pause.

There is no growing acceptance; the percentage of Albertans opposed has remained relatively constant since 2016. The UCP has weaponized this opposition and fostered a polarized discussion where the only choices are a carbon tax or nothing – to avoid real action on climate change. It is also difficult to ignore how badly the logic of the carbon tax has been undermined by Justin Trudeau’s government with the introduction of carve-outs that favour specific regions of the country.

So, let’s work with Albertans to find new solutions.

We know it is possible to take robust action on climate change and future-proof our economy without a consumer carbon tax. America focused on incentives and industrial subsidies, while Europe chose pollution limits and rules to improve efficiency. All have shown success in reducing CO2 emissions – arguably more success than we can attribute to consumer carbon pricing here in Alberta.

We also have home-grown successes to build on. The most talked about climate policy in Alberta has been the consumer carbon tax, but the most meaningful has been a revamped industrial carbon pricing system that has driven innovations and emission reductions and the phasing out of coal power generation. Both, by the way, were Alberta NDP policies.

By learning from the best of what’s occurring around the globe and adding on some Alberta-specific expertise, we will build up a new plan that reduces all categories of emissions and works for Albertans.

We can streamline the process of green construction and retrofitting. We can enable energy efficiency in buildings and homes, lower bills and create thousands of trade jobs in the process.

We can invest in transit choice and modern infrastructure. We can give Albertans more commuting options and drive down emissions in the process.

We can build a modern and robust electrical grid that keeps prices low, reliability high and emissions at net zero. We can improve transmission infrastructure, invest in smart grids and interties, and strengthen the roles of storage and low-cost renewable generation.

And we can do so much more with a plan that achieves our climate ambitions and one that also speaks to Albertans.

A close-up view of an electric vehicle charging station with a charging cable plugged in. There's a sign next to the charger that reads 'J1772 Charging station' in English and 'Station de recharge' in French.  At the top of the sign is the 'Parks Canada' logo. The background shows a natural scene with trees and a hint of a blue sky.

The Alberta NDP has started its first leadership race of its modern era, and Albertans are watching. Those looking for a more optimistic future for our province, those fed up with Danielle Smith’s government, and those feeling politically homeless will be assessing whether they can see themselves in the party that comes out the other side of the contest.

Will we stubbornly hold to rejected positions, or will we hear Albertans and work with them on new ways to reach our shared goals?

Will we wash our hands of any action at all and let climate action live or die based on the results of the next federal election? Or will we create our own robust plan to tackle climate change, one that we can bring to the voters in 2027?

I believe a party that aspires to govern can’t be bystanders on such an important issue: we need a plan to tackle climate change – a robust one that Albertans can support.

Whether we’re working with the federal government to recognize this made-in-Alberta solution as equivalent or establishing our own plan in a country without federal regulations, it’s time for Alberta – and Alberta’s NDP – to break out of the eight-year-old argument on the consumer carbon tax and get to work on building the climate future we all need.

It's time for a new climate plan – one that meets our obligations, meets the public where they are, and fights back against the present and growing threat of climate change.