The top representative of Alberta at the global climate conference in Scotland has a message for those in the province who feel chosen by the pressure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
You are not alone.
“I feel it too,” said Steve MacDonald, CEO of Emissions Reduction Alberta, a provincial agency that helps fund carbon reduction initiatives.
“But you come here and listen to these other jurisdictions and they are struggling with exactly the same problems. I think it’s very reassuring. “
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One of only two Alberta delegates in Glasgow for the UN-sponsored COP26 meeting on climate change, MacDonald’s days were full.
He met with senior Canadian officials, including the new Federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault. He has given presentations and met with national delegates from the UK, the European Union, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Sweden, among others.
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There are stands to meet people from different countries and companies. Coffee chat. And yes, social networks.
“Over a glass of wine you can have different conversations and build relationships with some of the most influential people in the world around the climate file,” MacDonald said. “It can go as long as you want.”
You can ask questions, follow up on ideas, make personal contacts.
“It’s a bit of a club. You must be here. “
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The occasional eyebrow raises when he says “I’m from Alberta”. Some condemn the province, along with its emissions.
And Alberta still has a long way to go, MacDonald acknowledges. The united Conservative government is still working on its climate change strategy, which it has promised to release soon.
But other countries want to learn about Alberta’s experience with carbon taxes, he said. They want to know about its carbon capture technologies.
In return, MacDonald is all ears when it comes to measures like green bonds, a market-based way to raise funds for renewable energy.
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Alberta’s two-person delegation is the smallest of all of Canada’s energy-producing provinces, smaller even than delegations sent by groups like the Inuit Circumpolar Conference.
MacDonald does not feel unarmed. You learn to pick your points, he said.
“As a (province), you have to be very proactive.”
Alberta politicians often complain that the bar continues to rise for the province’s reduction goals. Join the club, MacDonald said, everyone thinks so.
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“The whole world is trying to keep up with the demands that we need to do more, faster.”
Plans that were bold five years ago are now just table bets, he said.
“The agenda has changed. There is a different kind of level of what is expected. “
But Alberta residents shouldn’t think they have to solve these problems on their own, or that they’re the only jurisdiction where climate change is a hot topic.
“When you go out and talk to people on a national and international scale, you recognize that there are many jurisdictions struggling with the same problems.”
It’s hard for everyone, MacDonald said.
“Alberta isn’t the only jurisdiction heavily reliant on hydrocarbons,” he said. “Alberta’s challenges in terms of how quickly we can get to net zero is a challenge we share with the world.”
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