08/14/2015 02:46 EDT | Updated 08/14/2015 02:59 EDT

Alberta Climate Change Panel Includes Members With Suncor, Enbridge Links

Alberta unveils newly appointed five-person panel, including reps with links to two major Canadian energy companies.

MARK RALSTON via Getty Images
Aerial view of the Suncor oil sands extraction facility on the banks of the Athabasca River and near the town of Fort McMurray in Alberta Province, Canada on October 23, 2009. Greenpeace is calling for an end to oil sands mining in the region due to their greenhouse gas emissions and have recently staged sit-ins which briefly halted production at several mines. At an estimated 175 billion barrels, Alberta's oil sands are the second largest oil reserve in the world behind Saudi Arabia, but they were neglected for years, except by local companies, because of high extraction costs. Since 2000, skyrocketing crude oil prices and improved extraction methods have made exploitation more economical, and have lured several multinational oil companies to mine the sands. AFP PHOTO/Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

Alberta’s climate change strategy will be shaped by a newly appointed panel made up of five experts—including representatives with links to two major Canadian energy companies.

“Our government intends to take action,” Environment and Parks Minister Shannon Phillips said at a Friday news conference about the NDP government’s commitment to hold an “incredible conversation” to come up with an ambitious plan.

“Climate change is a threat we all face, affecting everything from our health, food production, and fresh water to biodiversity and our economy,” Phillips said in a statement.

Climate change panel members include:

  • Angela Adams, Unifor’s director of education
  • Linda Coady, Enbridge Inc.’s chief sustainability officer
  • Stephanie Cairns, a consultant and Pembina Institute board member
  • Gord Lambert, a consultant who recently retired as an advisor to Suncor’s executives on sustainability

In June, University of Alberta business professor Dr. Andrew Leach was tapped as chair. Leach wrote in Maclean’s that the panel’s mandate is to complete an overview of "greenhouse gas mitigation options."

“I am looking forward to hearing from Albertans, both in person and online,” said Leach in a statement Friday.

“The fact is there are no easy solutions to the climate change challenge. We need to ensure we provide government with sound advice to inform the choices that will be made.”

Pembina Institute executive director Ed Whittingham praised the announcement, calling the five-person panel a “well-balanced lineup of experts.”

The public will also be invited to weigh in via public information sessions beginning the week of Aug. 24. Input from First Nations and Metis communities, as well as the energy industry, will also be heard.

And for those who can’t attend sessions in-person, the province launched an online survey to collect feedback on key issues a provincial plan should focus on and review.

When asked about how the panel will work in concert with the province’s new royalty review panel, Phillips responded, “Very closely.”

Consultations are scheduled to continue to September. Phillips said the goal is to have an energy policy ready by late October or November, before the start of the UN climate conference in Paris at the end of the year.

Also on HuffPost:

Photo gallery The Top Paid CEOs In The Alberta Oil Patch See Gallery