EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says she "strongly supports" the federal NDP's plan to combat climate change, except for a cap-and-trade system that could potentially move money out of her province.
A day after she panned cap-and-trade as probably not the "best road forward" for Alberta, Notley tried to set the record straight Tuesday on a perceived rift between her and federal leader Tom Mulcair.
Mulcair's plan would allow provinces to opt out if their efforts to fight climate change were as good or better than a national strategy. That would make it OK for Alberta's New Democrats, Notley said.
"The comments that I made yesterday always aligned with the framework that was announced by Tom Mulcair," Notley told a conference call with reporters.
"What Mulcair is putting forward is that their plan will allow provinces to come up with their own solution.
"My opinion with respect to the federal party's plan for climate change is that Alberta can work with it and it is reasonable."
She called the perceived difference between the branches of the party an "inadvertent misunderstanding" of her remarks in a Montreal speech on Monday.
Mulcair has said that a federal NDP government would develop a national system that would set hard caps on emissions and make polluters who exceeded them pay.
Mulcair has noted that Canada successfully adopted such an approach decades ago to combat emissions that were causing acid rain.
He did point out that some provinces — British Columbia, Alberta, Quebec and Ontario — have already implemented their own measures on climate change such as implementing a carbon tax or cap and trade.
"We're not going to replace something that's working," Mulcair said on the weekend.
That opt-out is what has Notley onside.
"We're not particularly interested in a plan that is going to result in a transfer of capital outside of Alberta," she said Tuesday.
One of Notley's first acts after she won the provincial election in May was to charge an expert panel with designing an overall climate-change policy for Alberta in advance of talks in Paris this December.
By 2017, Alberta plans to require large emitters to reduce their emissions by 20 per cent per unit of production. Emissions over that level are to cost $30 a tonne.
A July 2014 analysis done for the Alberta government by Brattle Group recommended increasing Alberta's carbon tax to $50 a tonne — an increase of almost 70 per cent.
That report is now before the panel, which is expected to deliver its conclusions in November.
The leader of Alberta's official Opposition said Notley appears to be caving in to Mulcair.
"Albertans want leadership that protects jobs and the economy," Wildrose Leader Brian Jean said in a news release.
"They don't want risky policies that will only pile on while we're already suffering from the low price of oil, more regulations and higher taxes. We can make meaningful progress on the reduction of CO2 emissions without having to submit to the political will of Thomas Mulcair in Ottawa."
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