COP18: Alberta highlights carbon capture

A photo of The Pearl, a man-made island in Doha

The Pearl, a man-made island in Doha, Qatar

Monday, Dec 3

Monday was a great day as we began the official portion of COP18.

We started the day with a very interesting briefing with Joan McNaughton, Executive Chair, Energy and Climate Policy Assessment, of the World Energy Council.  On Dec 1, 2012, the Council released a report titled the World Energy Trilemma. In it, the World Energy Council ranked Canada #3 out of 93 countries on an energy sustainability index. Sweden ranked #1 and Switzerland ranked #2.

Alberta plays a significant role in Canada’s leadership and ranking in the world.  The World Energy Council’s definition of energy sustainability is based on three dimensions – energy security, social equity and mitigation of environmental impacts.  Canada excels in all three components of the energy sustainability balance indicators.  Canada is praised for our sound policy making for sustainable energy systems, and the fact that these policies have long-term programs in place for mitigating the environmental impacts of energy systems.

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) was the theme for the rest of the day. We met with governments, non-government organizations (NGOs) and industry to discuss Alberta’s climate change strategy and the important role CCS plays in achieving our outcomes.

We had productive meetings with Dr. RyutAro Yatsu, Vice-Minister for Global Environmental Affairs with the Japan Ministry of Environment and Dr. Al-Jaber, Minister of Foreign Affairs with the United Arab Emirates. Both of these nations are interested in cooperating with us on CCS.  Alberta has had a long twinning relationship with HokkaidoPrefecture in Japan. We will continue to engage with them to see if there are further opportunities for collaboration.

Photo of Minister McQueen with an environment consultant from Statoil

Meeting with an environment consultant from Statoil

Our meetings with environment and climate consultants from Statoil and The Climate Group, an NGO, confirmed that Alberta is taking action in all the right areas. Statoil facilitates viable global policies and regulatory frameworks that encourage cost-efficient renewable and low carbon energy solutions and the deployment of CCS.  These meetings gave us an opportunity to seek input on how we can continue to improve our climate change strategy.

Towards the end of the day, I spoke on a panel to highlight Alberta’s work on CCS, comparing our projects with projects elsewhere in the world.

Gray Taylor, with Bennett Jones, and Lee Solsbery, with Environmental Resources Management joined me on the CCS panel. It was very interesting to hear an outside perspective on Alberta’s approach. We are seen to be progressive and action-oriented with a system for addressing greenhouse gas emissions that is very robust. In my comments, I provided the broader context and spoke to the outcomes we have defined and are working to achieve. There was a great deal of interest expressed by attendees.

Photo of the sun setting behind the Doha skyline

Catching the sunset over Doha between meetings

The evening concluded with a dinner hosted by the UK Ambassador. We had great discussions with industry and other governments, including Scotland’s Environment Minister, on how we can continue to move forward with CCS projects globally. Perspectives were shared from attendees, including representatives from Norway, France, Australia, the UK, and others.  A lot of great work has been done, but more work is needed in some areas, including education. Some jurisdictions have launched great programs to help with this and we’re looking forward to having more discussions in the future.

Tuesday will be a busy day as we meet with a number of government delegations. Bob Savage, Director of Alberta’s Climate Change Secretariat, and I will also speak on the International Emissions Trading Association’s panel to discuss Alberta’s greenhouse gas emissions control system.

– Diana McQueen

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