Posted on May 27, 2016

My Thoughts on the Climate Leadership Plan

The Honourable Shannon Phillips, MLA for Lethbridge-West and Minister of Environment and Parks, tabled the Climate Leadership Implementation Act on May 24, 2016. This act will move Alberta forward as one of the world's most environmentally responsible energy producers. I am writing this open letter to my constituents as a means to express my thoughts on the Climate Leadership Plan.

I am very proud of the constituents in Spruce Grove - St. Albert and how much we already care for the environment. I know that the City of Spruce Grove, the City of St. Albert, Sturgeon County and Parkland County take sustainability and the health of the environment into consideration in all their decisions.

We are at a turning point in our province. The past fifty years have seen tremendous and unparalleled growth in our population and in the development of our petrochemical industries. All this growth, however, comes with a cost. It costs us in pollution of the environment and in health of our citizens. Coal pollution is one example. We know that burning coal costs us hundreds of millions of dollars every year in health care costs and lost productivity. We know that coal pollution increases the likelihood of respiratory illnesses, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Countries around the world are moving away from coal as an energy source, and 12 of Alberta’s 18 coal plants are slated to close before 2030 due to federal government regulations. But the federal government did not have any plan to support communities, workers or their families while transitioning away from coal. Our Climate Leadership Plan supports communities and workers and treats coal companies and investors fairly. The Climate Leadership Plan includes an adjustment fund to help affected communities and First Nations as well as carbon levy rebates for low- and middle-income Albertans. In fact, six out of ten Alberta families will be rebated for the full amount of the carbon levy they pay.  

Every dollar from the levy that isn’t rebated to low- and middle-income families will be reinvested into the economy to support green technology and economic diversification. This reinvestment will support businesses, municipalities, schools and hospitals as they strive to improve the energy efficiency of their operations. It will get more people working, more money flowing into the economy, and reduce pollution.

We will continue our strong commitment to support affected workers and communities as they go through this transition.

The world-changing ways we deal with the environment and the economy is being recognized everywhere, from Albertan towns, cities and farms to international climate conferences like the recent meeting in Paris. Alberta has the opportunity and responsibility to be leaders when it comes to climate change. We, side by side with our industries, our Indigenous and Metis people and our municipalities are moving forward in a responsible, balanced, inclusive and fair manner.