Governance of Alberta's Climate Leadership Plan

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Greeves, Warren
School of environment and sustainability
The Canadian province of Alberta is a major contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions, producing 256 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year, or 38% of Canada’s national emissions. As a carbon-intensive natural resource extractive economy, Alberta implemented numerous low-carbon policies in 2015, only to see many of those policies repealed in 2019 following a change in government. This research examines what social, political, and economic factors impacted governance of climate policy in Alberta from 2015 until the change in government in 2019. Analysing 344 press releases and 12 interviews with public servants and other stakeholders, this research uses Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan as a case study to better understand the drivers and pressures facing sub-national governments as they develop and implement climate policy. Key policy insights● Several strong structures of governance were established early in the policy cycle, only to have those structures rolled away later on. Winding down of climate policy governance structures in Alberta coincided with an aggressive campaign to expand fossil fuel infrastructure. ● The main motivation for climate policy implementation in Alberta from 2015 to 2019 was social licence for continued fossil fuel development. ● Barriers to policy development and implementation included the speed of policy development; the number and diversity of vested interests of industry and environmental stakeholders; institutional tensions, differing bureaucratic cultures and conflicting mandates and within separate government ministries; and the use of the carbon tax as a wedge political issue.
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