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COP26 promises leave Alberta's government, energy producers with questions and concerns


Alberta's government and its energy producers have questions about how the country's latest climate pledges will impact them. 

The confusion comes following a Monday rife with Canadian commitments and a Thursday that saw another promise from the federal government. 

The latest announcement from Scotland's COP26 climate summit focused on public financing for fossil fuel projects abroad. 

Canada has joined the United States, United Kingdom and 21 other countries in a historic deal to stop new direct public finance for coal and oil and gas development by the end of 2022. The countries say they'll shift that investment to renewable energy. 

Back in Alberta, the provincial government wants to know just how many of the promises will be kept. 

"(Trudeau) is over there on a photo opportunity making announcements, and they are vague," energy minister Sonya Savage said. "There's just a whole lot of hypocrisy over in Scotland."

Justin Trudeau at COPS26 in Scotland, Nov.2, 2021


Part of the province's concern revolves around a pledge to reduce Canada's greenhouse gas emissions by committing to a cap from the oil and gas sector.

Such a cap had been promised in the Liberals' recent election platform, with plans to force emissions down until they hit net zero in 2050. 

"How we're going to get there is going to be critically important and needs collaboration and communication amongst all parties," Whitecap Resources' Grant Fagerheim said. "It sets a level of anxiety that people have to deal with and that's a concern for those that are employed in the sector in Western Canada."

Large producers like Cenovus and Suncor have already made the pledge to reach net zero by 2050. 

"I didn't hear (Trudeau) say once that Alberta is already doing that," Savage said. "Industry is already doing that."

"They've made commitments, at least the larger producers and the oil sands producers, to get to net zero," energy and climate policy writer Shawn McCarthy said. "So in some ways the (federal) government is now saying, 'your commitment is out there now, how are we going to get there?' What are they prepared to put on the table in terms of capital spending and operating expenses to realize the commitments they are putting on paper? That's the real test."

Countries that signed Thursday's pledge together invested nearly US$18 billion on average each year in international fossil fuel projects from 2016-2020, according to analysis by non-profit Oil Change International.

With files from Reuters and Canadian Press Top Stories

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