Edmontonians concerned about the impacts of climate change in Alberta joined a rally at city hall Saturday afternoon.
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The rally organized by Climate Justice Edmonton came just days before Premier Danielle Smith is set to fly to Dubai for the COP28 climate change conference.
“We are here today to show the government that Albertans and Edmontonians are ready for an energy transition on the scale that we need,” said Olivia Mitchell with Climate Justice Edmonton. “We’ve had some very disappointing announcements from the provincial government as we all know with the renewables moratorium, it’s really disheartening to see.
“Regardless of climate action, just economically there are so many jurisdictions that are trying to make themselves more appealing places for these investments that we need and Alberta is actively dragging us in the opposite direction.”
The Edmonton rally was part of a bigger global day of action called Power Up for Renewables.
“We know that there is an affordability crisis right now,” Mitchell said. “People are really struggling, a big part of that is paying their bills, paying for electricity. We’re here to say that we need to prioritize this.”
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A spokesperson for the premier said a full itinerary will be released next week in advance of the trip but Smith plans to attend with Rebecca Schulz, minister of environment and protected areas of Alberta.
The premier’s office also shared a statement with Global News in which Smith said Alberta has a “very compelling story to tell about what the future of this energy transition looks like.”
“Energy development and emissions reduction are not in conflict. Alberta has been a long-time global leader in energy production and continues to be at the forefront of the global energy transition towards new technology and innovations that reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” the statement noted.
“Our clean energy technology and LNG development will have a huge impact on worldwide emissions reductions, an impact much greater than any actions taken by our federal government.
“Alberta has critical solutions to the world’s energy challenges and that’s why it is critically important we are able to share those on the world stage at COP28.”
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“For us, it’s really important that we have a ‘just’ transition away from fossil fuels, one that puts workers and communities first,” said Alison McIntosh, an organizer with Climate Justice Edmonton.
“In this province, we have benefited from the really big highs and the big lows of the fossil fuel industry and with the realities of the climate crisis we’re experiencing right now with the heat waves, the fires the floods, we need to stop extracting fossil fuels and we need to have alternatives like renewables that benefit people.”
The premier has blasted federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault in the past over comments he made about capping emissions. Guilbeault had said because Alberta company Suncor wants to focus more on oil and gas production, it furthers the case for a federal emissions cap.
Guilbeault intends to publish draft regulations this fall to cap emissions from oil and gas production, and then force them downward over time.
Smith has accused Guilbeault of attacking Alberta’s energy sector, saying Alberta won’t implement the emissions cap, nor will it follow Ottawa’s target to have the electricity grid be net-zero by 2035.
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“Alberta is really poised for a renewables transition,” McIntosh said. “We also need to acknowledge the fossil fuel industry has made record profits while laying off a record number of workers in the past few years. Our wealth and our future, our sustainability and our high quality of life is not with the fossil fuel industry anymore. It hasn’t been in a long time and the government continues to give huge subsidies and tax breaks to the fossil fuel industry.”
“I hope that people really start to think about the things they can do and push all levels of government to do.”
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