A legally mandated climate change accountability framework can address the gaps in the plan

Lennie KaplanIn April 2023, the Alberta government released its new climate change plan, the Emissions Reduction and Energy Development Plan (EREDP). The EREDP outlines a series of actions, opportunities, and commitments to reduce emissions, including an aspirational target of a carbon-neutral provincial economy by 2050.

However, the EREDP lacks an overall implementation plan, individual implementation plans for key industry sectors, and vigorous monitoring and reporting systems. While the EREDP announced a number of planned accountability measures, including publishing reports documenting the progress and outcomes of the actions taken as part of the EREDP, it lacks a strong legislated accountability framework, a key feature of best practice climate change accountability frameworks found in such jurisdictions, as Canada, B.C. and Manitoba.

Alberta needs a robust legislated accountability framework based on best practices to help backstop implementation of the EREDP because credibility is important. What key elements should be included in the province’s climate change accountability framework?

alberta climate change EREDP
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The Canadian Climate Institute (CCI) has done considerable work examining best practice climate change accountability frameworks and developed five key elements for a strong legislated framework.

  • Formalizing climate governance structures and processes: Establishing a set of governance structures and formal processes for setting, meeting, and monitoring progress against a province’s long-term emissions targets.
  • Clearly defining roles and responsibilities: Outlining the duties of specific institutions as they relate to the attainment of long-term targets.
  • Establishing interim emissions reduction milestones: Setting interim emissions reduction milestones as a way of setting out a path to long-term targets.
  • Producing action plans to meet milestones: Requiring governments to prepare policy measures, developed through collaboration with experts and stakeholders, that will meet interim milestones.
  • Requiring monitoring and reporting: Having formal requirements for transparent reporting on government plans and progress allows the public to better understand and evaluate progress against commitments.

A strong legislated climate change accountability framework in Alberta, along the lines proposed by the Canadian Climate Institute, is critical so that planned policy actions can be evaluated against the EREDP to ensure programs are meeting goals and objectives in a cost-effective manner and to hold the government accountable to Albertans for the actions, opportunities, and commitments outlined in the EREDP.

Alberta’s new climate change plan isn’t credible without a strong legislated accountability framework. The Alberta government doesn’t need to await a detailed implementation plan to establish a strong legislated climate change accountability framework. The time to act is now by introducing and passing an Alberta Climate Change Accountability Act during the 2024 spring session of the Legislative Assembly.

Lennie Kaplan spent over two decades in the public service of Alberta, including as a senior manager in the Fiscal and Economic Policy Division of the Ministry of Treasury Board and Finance, where he worked on cross-ministry initiatives evaluating the impacts of federal climate change policies. He recently retired from his position as Executive Director of Research at the Canadian Energy Centre.

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