Environmentalists protest Alberta plan at premiers’ meet



jeff hodson/metro vancouver


Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach arrives at the Council of the Federation meeting at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Vancouver yesterday morning.


Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach will be the lone absentee at a first ministers’ climate-change forum today in Vancouver.

Alberta Environment Minister Rob Renner will take Stelmach’s place at today’s forum on climate change adaptation hosted by B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell.

Stelmach presented his new energy plan — calling for a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 14 per cent below 2005 levels by 2050 — to Canada’s premiers at a first ministers’ meeting yesterday at the Pan Pacific Hotel.

Environmentalists have mocked the plan, which was unveiled last week, because it doesn’t call for a net reduction in emissions for 12 years. By comparison, B.C. is legislating a 33 per cent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2020.

Outside the hotel, a group of about 50 environmentalists protested the plan and called for reduced emissions from Alberta’s tar sands, which are responsible for about three per cent of Canada’s total carbon emissions.

The Alberta premier, however, said rushing to curb emissions from the tar sands would mean economic ruin.

“Today the economy of Canada is dependant, in a large part, on the economy of Alberta,” Stelmach said.

“To race everyone and immediately reduce greenhouse gas emissions will mean a total shutdown — a total shutdown — of the oil sands. That’s about 1.25 million barrels a day.”

He called it a “realistic and pragmatic plan” and shrugged off the protest by saying the Governor General was protested in Vancouver last week as well.