Oil Sands Advisory Group reaches consensus on first phase of work

Image: JWN

The Alberta government says it plans to review the first round of consensus advice from its Oil Sands Advisory Group on how best to increase oilsands production in compliance with the province’s legislated 100-megatonne cap on annual emissions.

The government will begin stakeholder consultations later this month, Shannon Phillips, environment and climate change minister, said today in releasing the recommendations of the 18-member advisory group, which included leaders from the oilsands industry, environmental groups and affected communities.

Co-chairs for the group were David Collyer – industry, Tzeporah Berman – ENGOs and Melody Lepine – communities.

Early action is the best way for limiting the emissions from oilsands production to 100 Mt per year, with the emphasis on the province encouraging lower-emission intensity production and building the necessary reporting and forecasting systems for limit compliance, according to the advisory group’s recommendations.

These actions should occur in unison with the output-based allocation system for carbon pricing, encouraging greenhouse gas (GHG) efficiency so that total emissions remain under the limit without limiting production.

The province will start holding stakeholder consultations pertaining to the recommendations June 27, 2017.

Recommended actions include requirements for best available technology economically achievable on new facilities and expansions, as well as the submission of non-binding GHG management plans for public accountability and transparency and preparation of a technology roadmap.

The government should establish information systems needed to trigger reviews and transition to more stringent actions if emissions approach the limit, suggests the advisory group. Such systems would involve an annual forecast and reported emissions and the publishing of a 10-year forecast. Each system would include accompanying standards to ensure consistent and credible information.

With the first phase of work complete, the advisory group is now on track to complete the second phase of its work by the end of June, which is to provide government advice on areas of targeted investment that will yield the greatest emissions reductions as production grows, said the government.

The government is actively recruiting new members with relevant expertise for phase three, which will focus on regional land based management and improving environmental performance.