Here’s How Alberta Wins in the Shift Off Carbon
The province at the centre of Canada’s fossil industry can thrive in an era of faster, deeper carbon cuts. But only if its leaders stop seizing defeat from the jaws of victory.
If we really want to come as close as possible to leaving no one behind in the fight against climate change, the road to decarbonization has to include Alberta.
But not in the way the province has been trying to frame and reframe Canada’s response on climate and energy. And certainly not based on the toxic political posturing we’re already seeing in the lead-up to the provincial election May 29.
It shouldn’t be so hard for those of us in the rest of Canada to understand that Alberta, more than any other province or territory, faces a unique set of vulnerabilities if we get the shift off carbon wrong. People in Ontario, for example, would be just as jittery if the science of climate change dictated a managed shutdown of auto manufacturing, rather than the fossil industry.
But that’s all the more reason to get the transition right. It’s an essential conversation that would be so much easier if the province’s political class—dare we label them political elites?—took a genuine interest in the clean energy options that are sweeping the country, the continent, and the world, creating jobs and promising emission reductions at every turn.
If only. Too often, both of the province’s major parties seem to seize every excuse, real or imagined, to put politics over substance on the energy transition and climate solutions. Lately, they’ve been picking up the pace, and not in a good way. Their opportunism is enabled by a federal-provincial system that only works well when the jurisdictions work together, where governments are too often rewarded for hanging tough and generating headlines on the minimum they can agree on rather than cooperating toward the faster action the country needs.