Climate Change Central Acts Against
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
BY BILL CORBETT
With its dependence on petroleum development and coal-fired electricity,
Alberta is a leading Canadian generator of greenhouse gas emissions. But
thanks to Climate Change Central, an initiative of the provincial government
and industry, Alberta is also fast becoming a leader in innovative, practical
action to reduce those emissions.
When Climate Change Central was conceived in 1999, its creators decided
to steer clear of the ongoing debate over global warming and what the
Kyoto agreement would mean, or do, to Alberta industry. Instead, they
adopted a proactive approach. Taking action on emission reduction would
benefit the environment, they believed, and would also help Alberta companies
position themselves for later regulations.
"Our objective is not to get into a policy debate but to act as a
catalyst for bringing people together to take action on climate change,"
says Leah Lawrence, P.Eng., Climate Change Central's vicepresident. "I
think companies Generating Alberta Solutions Climate Change Central Acts
Against Greenhouse Gas Emissions Generating Alberta Solutions...
"OUR OBJECTIVE IS NOT TO GET INTO A POLICY DEBATE
BUT TO ACT AS A CATALYST FOR BRINGING PEOPLE
TOGETHER TO TAKE ACTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE"
Leah Lawrence, P.Eng.
Climate Change Central
recognize there is a definite move to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,
whether its under a Kyoto-type obligation or something else.
Lots of Clout To give Climate Change Central plenty of clout, Premier
Ralph Klein and prominent industry leaders were appointed to its board
of directors and $6 million in provincial funding was provided for its
first three years of operation. An additional $1.5 million in provincial
funding was awarded earlier this year to help launch emission-reduction
Since it began operating in earnest in May with a staff of nine
in Calgary and Edmonton offices Climate Change Central has announced
nearly 10 projects, with another half dozen to soon be unveiled. These
projects will receive some $700,000 in Climate other government and industry
One project involves converting 60 passenger vans to natural gas. The
vans carry tourists between Calgary and Banff National Park. The project
which includes conversion subsidies for participating tour operators
and the opening of an Atco natural gas refueling station in Banff
is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the converted vehicles
by more than 25 per cent.
While natural gas is not a new fuel, fleet operators are comfortable
with it, says Ms. Lawrence, noting that transportation accounts
for 14 per cent of Albertas greenhouse gas emissions.
Technologies like fuel cells and hydrogen fuel systems are so new
that operators arent prepared to look at them yet for longdistance
Heavy Truck Conversions
Meanwhile, Climate Change Central and Albertas trucking industry
are considering a pilot project to cut the emissions from heavy trucks,
with a sort of partial conversion. The project would allow heavy trucks
travelling between Edmonton and Calgary to switch from diesel to cleanerburning
natural gas once up to highway speeds.
We represent an industry that relies on engines and fuels that ultimately
might not be sustainable. We president of Calgary-based Canadian Freightways
Limited and a member of Climate Change Centrals board. In Grande
Prairie, Climate Change Central is providing $50,000 for a feasibility
study into using waste heat from a sawmills co-generation plant
to heat nearby buildings. If this type of heat exchange proves cost effective,
it could be applied in many other Alberta communities.
Recognizing that greenhouse gas issues span the globe, Climate Change
Central, Alberta government and industry representatives recently travelled
to China to investigate emission reduction projects in enhanced petroleum
recovery, petrochemical production and coal-fired electrical production.
Besides improving Chinese air quality, the projects could also allow
participating companies to earn credits to offset their emissions in Alberta
under future regulations.
While Climate Changes primary focus is to apply existing technologies
to practical problems, it also sponsors such research as injecting carbon
dioxide into geological formations and identifying farming and forestry
practices that capture more carbon in soils.
Education is another priority, whether its organizing a two-day
simulation on greenhouse gas trading or creating Western Canadas
first office to earn Environment Canadas EcoLogo certification.
Climate Changes Calgary office uses recycled floor coverings, reused
materials and energy efficient lighting that will save 21 tonnes of carbon
emissions per year.
The projects weve announced so far will reduce carbon emissions
by the equivalent of 300,000 tonnes per year, says Ms Lawrence.
While that seems small, were just getting started. A lot of
the projects were involved in can be expanded. In about a year,
we expect the effects to snowball.