• Climate Change and Alberta

    Posted on January 9, 2015 by in Climate Change, MARK'S REMARKS

     

    I have just completed a course named Our Changing Climate: Past Present and Future presented by the prestigious Walker Institute at The University of Reading, England. It was offered by FutureLearn and is a free MOOC (Massive Open Online Course). The purpose was to update what I learned at Reading in the 1960s and to be able to speak a bit more authoritatively on Climate Change, especially to encourage us to be more considerate of how and where we live (Planet Earth).

    One outcome of the course (for me) is to try to influence our decision makers to make better decisions over our influence on global warming. There’s no longer any argument – there hasn’t been for more than 20 years – and the time for pre-emptive action has slipped away; we are now in recovery mode. So this letter has just been sent to our Premier and other political leaders in the province.

    Premier Jim Prentice
    307 Legislature Building
    10800 97 Avenue
    Edmonton, AB  T5K 2B6

    Dear Premier Prentice:

    Alberta Climate Change Strategy

    I understand the government is having difficulty developing a strategy to deal with climate change (in part) caused by and affecting Alberta. I offer some points to consider and put into effect forthwith as the time-frame for long study and careful consideration has expired and action needs to be taken now. A major benefit from the swift introduction of measures would be to raise the Progressive Conservative Party’s, Alberta’s (and possibly Canada’s) stature on the world stage. This is especially important prior to the next COP meeting (Paris, December 2015) and federal and provincial general elections in the coming two years.

    The following points are not in order of priority – all are important.

    ● Objects:

    • Demonstrate leadership in an energy-using and -producing jurisdiction with an extremely high per-capita energy usage when Canada seems unwilling to even take a ‘following’ role.
    • Reduce Alberta’s production of and responsibility for harmful Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions – Carbon Dioxide, Methane, Nitrous Oxide, particulates – leading to global warming through climate change.
    • Reduce effects of global warming on Alberta and elsewhere by minimising Alberta-generated harmful environmental changes.
    • Introduce new methods of reducing emissions by both reducing use and increasing conservation of energy.
    • Introduce new energy sources and techniques so as to preserve existing fossil energy sources for longer until those resources are truly needed.

    ● Techniques:

    • Demonstrate leadership in an energy-using and -producing jurisdiction with an extremely high per-capita energy usage when Canada seems unwilling to even take a ‘following’ role.
    • Waiting for climate change partners (other provinces) to jump on board will squander badly needed time to start reducing energy usage and GHG emissions.
    • Carbon cap and trade schemes should be rejected since the object is to reduce carbon consumption. Buying credits from someone who has devised an efficient way to produce energy and reduce GHGs does not meet the overall object of reducing GHGs in Alberta producers.
    • The overwhelming majority enjoyed by the Alberta Conservative government would ensure easy passage of legislation and regulations into force.
    • Since the opposition parties are generally in favour of dealing with climate change issues ignored by previous governments, despite overwhelming evidence of the need to cope with the problems now arising and affecting Albertans, opposition to a wide range of measures should be minimal.
    • Reduce Alberta’s production of and responsibility for harmful GHG emissions by:
    • Prohibiting production of emissions at source, e.g.,
    • by reducing or eliminating burning coal to generate electricity;
    • ‘shutting in’ bitumen until the excessive energy needed to produce this very expensive source of fuel is really needed on a world-wide market;
    • Finding ways to refine bitumen in Alberta to preserve employment at home rather than exporting jobs to China or the US Gulf coast, or even eastern Canada;
    • Encouraging the use of fuel-efficient vehicles by substantially increasing taxation on vehicle fuels to reduce consumption and GHG production (but see next point).
    • Encouraging the use of public transit (taxis, buses, trains/LRT,) which are generally more fuel-efficient than individual vehicles occupied by a sole driver. Fuel taxes on public transit could be minimised as an encouragement.
    • Reducing fuel usage for home heating and cooling by using more efficient methods than burning fossil fuels – e.g., by using heat recovery ventilators in more efficiently built and sealed homes; by requiring combined heat and power installations and heat recovery in larger buildings such as apartments and offices.
    • Reduce effects of global warming and consequent extreme weather events on Alberta and elsewhere by minimising Alberta-generated harmful environmental changes.
    • Require selective logging and prohibit clear-cutting of forests, especially upstream of communities, so as to minimise excess water run-off and to reduce the risk of flooding and erosion.
    • Require methods of conserving water such as ditch irrigation in preference to wasteful spray irrigation.
    • Introduce new methods of reducing emissions by reducing use, and increasing conservation, of energy.
    • Require higher building performance by increased insulation and use of improved building techniques to reduce energy use and waste. This would require departing from the standard Alberta building code and (for example) require new housing to be built to Passive House/Passivhaus® standards or better than Energuide 90.
    • Retrofit existing buildings to bring them up to a much higher energy efficiency standard e.g. Energuide 80 or better. Introduce a financial incentive programme to encourage energy efficient renovations.
    • Introduce new energy sources and techniques so as to preserve existing fossil energy sources for longer until those resources are truly needed.
    • Solar photovoltaic installations on house roofs, sized to permit feeding the grid when full demand and capacity is not required. A feed-in tariff to encourage such installations (e.g., pay home power producers what industrial producers receive).
    • Encourage installation of domestic and commercial/industrial solar hot water heating to reduce or eliminate reliance on fossil fuels.
    • Explore and encourage use of geothermal energy for building heating and cooling to reduce fossil fuel use.
    • Expand hydro-electric generation, including pumping used reservoir water back to reservoirs when demand for electricity is low.
    • Develop more wind power, and solar power in major installations over lesser-value agricultural land (e.g., grazing) to feed power to ‘the grid’ while preserving agricultural production.

    These remarks are just some of the many aspects of a comprehensive climate change strategy. I have been interested in this subject for over 40 years, studied Geography and Community Planning at University and recently updated my knowledge with an on-line non-credit course from the renowned Walker Institute at the University of Reading, England. Please also note the timely op-ed ‘Creating an Alberta Advantage’ on page A21 of today’s (Friday 9 January 2015) Calgary Herald.

    Yours Sincerely,

    A.M. (Mark) Hambridge

    C.C.    Kyle Fawcett, Minister of Environment
    Frank Oberle, Minister of Energy
    Donna Kennedy-Glans MLA, Calgary-Varsity
    Greg Clarke, Leader, Alberta Party
    Heather Forsythe, Acting Leader, Wildrose Party
    Janet Keeping, Alberta Green Party
    Rachel Notley, Leader, Alberta New Democrats
    Raj Sherman, Leader, Alberta Liberal Party

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