Climate leadership cuts pollution, supports jobs

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The Climate Leadership Plan continues to make life better for Albertans.

The Government of Alberta’s actions on climate change continue to strengthen the economy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, support local jobs and empower Albertans to invest in home and business improvements, while securing the province’s position as one of the most responsible energy producers in the world.

The recently released Climate Leadership Plan Progress Report 2017-18 shows Alberta is forecast to cut emissions by more than 50 megatonnes in 2030 – the same as taking more than 10.7 million cars off the road, or nearly half the passenger vehicles in Canada. Further reductions are anticipated from investments in clean technology and oilsands innovation that will enhance the competitiveness of our home-grown industries.

Results have also been immediate. Early data indicates that Alberta’s improved standard for industrial emissions reduced more than seven megatonnes in the electricity sector in 2018 alone.

“Albertans know we have a responsibility to future generations to address climate change, for the security of our kids, our grandkids, our environment and our economy. Under our plan, Alberta has cleaner air, less pollution and a booming green economy that’s ready for the future, with the jobs, skills and training to be first and best at whatever comes next.”

Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks, Minister responsible for the Climate Change Office

During the 2016-17 and 2017-18 fiscal years, about $1.5 billion has been invested in rebates, tax cuts and more than 40 Climate Leadership Plan (CLP) programs and policies. The revenue from the CLP has supported thousands of projects across the province, from infrastructure like Edmonton’s southeast Valley Line LRT to solar panels on Beaver Lake Cree Nation.

Albertans are also saving money from energy efficiency. Energy Efficiency Alberta (EEA) also reports programs are yielding $510 million in energy savings, or enough energy to power 1.2 million Alberta homes for one year. For every $1 invested into these programs, $3.00 is returned to Albertans’ pockets.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the work Energy Efficiency Alberta has accomplished in such a short time. As the last jurisdiction in North America to have an agency dedicated to energy efficiency, we’ve had some catching up to do, but the results are already impressive. Our programs are a hit with Alberta households and businesses in every corner of the province, creating local jobs and driving real economic growth. This growth translates into more jobs for engineering firms, solar installers, home improvement companies that employ electricians, plumbers and HVAC technicians, and contractors installing energy-efficiency equipment for businesses, and more. We need to keep up this momentum.”

David Dodge, board chair, Energy Efficiency Alberta

EEA, in its annual report, indicates that its programs have also supported roughly 3,600 jobs, and generated $720 million in economic growth. Overall, EEA programs will prevent 4.2 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

CLP highlights

  • Alberta’s emissions were tracking toward 314 annual megatonnes by 2030. With the CLP in place, Alberta is now tracking toward 263 megatonnes with further reductions coming from investments in clean technology.
  • CLP investments have supported more than 5,000 jobs in 2017-18. CLP commitments, such as the Green Line in Calgary, will support a further 20,000 jobs in the coming years.
  • Combining 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 fiscal years, a total of $978 million in rebates has made life better and more affordable for lower- and middle-income Albertans.
  • To support local small business, the CLP provided a 33 per cent small business tax cut. The reduction will save business owners almost half a billion dollars over three years.
  • The government is investing more than $3 billion over 10 years for light rail transit in Calgary and Edmonton from the CLP, including $1.53 billion for Calgary’s Green Line and $1.47 billion to support Edmonton transit, including the West Valley Line. Budget 2018 also included $967 million over 10 years for GreenTRIP and other community transit investments.
  • More than 65 Indigenous communities in Alberta have benefited from 125 Indigenous Climate Leadership Initiative projects since 2017.  
  • The solar industry in Alberta has grown by more than 800 per cent. Installed solar capacity has increased from six MW in 2015 to 50 MW in 2018. About 3,100 solar installations have been completed across the province. Albertans have conserved enough energy through solar to power a city the size of Leduc.

The progress report covers the fiscal year of April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018 with indicator results based on the 2017 calendar year – the first year Alberta collected a carbon levy. A total of $1.19 billion of carbon revenue was invested back into the economy that year.


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Former Domtar site assessment reports released

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The government has released comprehensive surface and sub-surface soil data, along with a human health risk assessment of soil contamination on and around the former Domtar wood-treatment facility in northeast Edmonton.

The surface and sub-surface testing conducted by the province during 2017-18 involved more than 1,039 sample locations with 1,457 specimens analyzed. Results indicate 183 samples have levels of contamination that exceed human health guidelines for dioxins and furans. Of these, 96 per cent are located in fenced-off areas. A number of other contaminants of concern for human health are identified in these reports. Remediation of those locations remains the responsibility of the companies previously ordered by Alberta Environment and Parks to clean up the site.

Protective measures put in place last year, such as fencing and dust control, are important to protect residents. These measures will continue, and remediation of areas of particular concern highlighted by the sampling reports will begin when ground conditions improve later this spring.

“Our highest priority is the health and safety of residents, and we will continue to work towards minimizing any potential health risks to local residents. While these reports show that there are hazards in the areas, these risks are being addressed through the protective measures already in place until remediation of the soil is undertaken.”

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Chief Medical Officer of Health

“Alberta Health Services continues to work closely with the Alberta government on efforts to protect the public. We appreciate that this has been a stressful time for residents in the area and we thank them for their patience and understanding while we continue to gather further information about the health risks.”

Dr. Chris Sikora, Medical Officer of Health, AHS Edmonton Zone

Alberta Health has made a preliminary comparison of the rates of cancer, miscarriages and birth defects in the surrounding neighbourhoods. This initial analysis found no difference between rates in the area near the former Domtar site compared with other parts of the province, with the exception of three types of cancer.

Among people who had lived in the area for 10 or more years, there were:

  • 34 cases of breast cancer in women (16 to 31 cases would have been expected)
  • 14 cases of endometrial cancer in women (three to nine cases would have been expected)
  • 22 cases of lung cancer in men (six to 14 cases would have been expected)

No differences in any childhood cancers were found compared with other parts of the province.

This data on its own does not indicate why there are higher rates for these three types of cancer in the area. Many factors could contribute to an increased risk of cancer, including but not limited to medical history, medication use and tobacco use. Alberta Health will, therefore, be working immediately with federal experts to conduct a field epidemiology investigation to try and identify what population health factors might have contributed to higher rates of these three cancers.

As a precautionary measure, women who have lived in the area for 10 or more years should talk to their doctors about the risks and benefits of starting breast cancer screening at the age of 40. This is a precaution until the results of the field epidemiology study are available.

Next steps

The soil sampling report from the former wood-processing site (called Parcel Y) is being finalized and is expected to be released later in March.

Exposure to soil contaminants is limited by fencing and dust control measures. Residents continue to be advised to stay out of restricted areas.

Remediation of areas of specific concern will begin once ground conditions improve in the spring.

For individual health concerns or to discuss early breast cancer screening, residents are encouraged to contact their family doctor. Those who do not have a family doctor can call Health Link (811) to find doctors in the area accepting new patients.


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Investing in 33 new transit projects

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Minister Mason and Mayor Iveson celebrate Albert Community Transit funding.

A total of 17 municipal transit systems will share $215 million from the new Alberta Community Transit Fund, launched in August 2018. Projects include the purchase of 15 new Light Rail Vehicles (LRVs) and 52 Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses in Calgary, as well as a dedicated bus lane on Terwillegar Drive and 28 new electric buses in Edmonton.

“These transit projects will help Albertans get to where they need to go in a timely and cost-efficient way while helping to reduce pollution and ease congestion. We know folks would rather spend time with their family versus sitting in traffic. That’s why we are investing in new ways for Albertans to get to where they are going.”

Brian Mason, Minister of Transportation

“Ongoing investments in transit are critical for a big city like ours that continues to grow. Two big wins for us include being able to move forward with relieving car congestion for one of the fastest growing areas of the city while also being able to green our bus fleet. We are grateful to the Government of Alberta for recognizing these pressing needs that will both enhance the opportunities for Edmontonians to get around in our city and contribute to our climate resilience.”

Don Iveson, mayor, City of Edmonton

“This funding is critical to our long-term plans for Calgary’s transit system. Adding Light Rail Vehicles and CNG buses to our fleet will help ensure our system is resilient into the future. This is great news for Calgary.”

Naheed Nenshi, mayor, City of Calgary

Alberta Community Transit Fund investments help municipalities address the needs of their growing communities, while increasing environmentally sustainable transit options and improving rider experience.

Quick facts

  • The $215 million will be awarded to:
    • Calgary Metropolitan Region, $101.8 million
    • Edmonton Metropolitan Region, $95.4 million
    • Other communities, $17.8 million
  • In the first three years, the grants will be funded with $141.4 million from the Climate Leadership Plan.


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