The likelihood of United States government inaction on climate change over the next four years under President-elect Donald Trump should not affect the competitiveness of the Canadian energy industry, says Alberta Premier Rachel Notley.
“There are strong, strong compelling reasons for moving forward on our climate leadership plan and the decisions of the voters south of the border are not things that should appropriately factor into that,” she said this week.
The Exploration and Producers Association of Canada (EPAC) called on the Alberta government to “hit the pause button” on its carbon reduction plans until the implications of the Trump victory are clearer while Peter Tertzakian, managing director of ARC Financial Corp., suggested that U.S. energy policy under Trump would focus more on energy than on the environment.
However, according to Notley, the Alberta government never factored into its climate change plan the likelihood of the U.S., even under the Barack Obama administration, moving forward on significant climate change initiatives, particularly around pricing carbon.
“Our climate change leadership plan was designed and modelled on the basis of Alberta acting alone with amendments and considerations built into the plan for our more trade exposed industries and I think that remains the case now,” she said.
“It also makes sense — in Canada and all around the world — to act on climate change, to phase out coal pollution, and to phase in clean renewable energy.”
Alberta has significant momentum on the file, she said.
“We are actually ahead of the game here in Alberta relative to where we were a year ago when we first announced the climate leadership plan because the federal government is talking within three or four years to bringing other jurisdictions in Canada to where Alberta is so it would actually improve the whole competitiveness issue.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says it's full steam ahead for his government's environmental plan--including a national carbon price--despite a Donald Trump presidency that will likely recast America's climate-change priorities.
The Liberals have made the fight against climate change one of the motifs of their government since coming to power a year ago, and had a highly sympathetic Democratic partner in Washington under the administration of President Barack Obama.
The new American president-elect, by contrast, has suggested climate change is a hoax, wants the United States out of the Paris climate accord and plans to promote the exploration and development of fossil fuels, including coal.
Trudeau announced last month that he'd impose a national floor price on carbon dioxide emissions starting in 2018, rising to $50 per tonne by 2022.
Canada won't be altering course, the prime minister told a news conference Thursday in Sydney, N.S., when asked about Trump's potential impact.
"One of the things people in Canada and indeed around the world understand is that there is tremendous economic disadvantage from not acting in the fight against climate change; for not pushing towards cleaner jobs and reducing emissions; towards not showing leadership at time where the world is looking for leadership," Trudeau said.
"We know that putting a price on carbon pollution is a way to improve our response to economic challenges, to create good jobs going forward and to show leadership that quite frankly the entire world is looking for, along with the solutions that go with it."
It's clear, however, that a Trump presidency is going to complicate the Liberal government's plans.
"A carbon tax makes no sense anymore," Conservative interim leader Rona Ambrose said in Edmonton, calling it "complete insanity" for Canada to continue pricing carbon emissions given the new American political reality.
"What we've got now is a situation where we could be put at a huge competitive disadvantage compared to the United States."
--With files from the Canadian Press