January 2002

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Generating Alberta Solutions

Climate Change Central Acts Against
Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Freelance Writer

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...

Leah Lawrence, P.Eng.
Climate Change Central

recognize there is a definite move to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, whether it’s 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 projects.

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 partners.

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 Alberta’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“Technologies like fuel cells and hydrogen fuel systems are so new that operators aren’t prepared to look at them yet for longdistance trips.”

Heavy Truck Conversions Possible

Meanwhile, Climate Change Central and Alberta’s 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 Central’s board. In Grande Prairie, Climate Change Central is providing $50,000 for a feasibility study into using waste heat from a sawmill’s 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.

Education, Research Too

While Climate Change’s 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 it’s organizing a two-day simulation on greenhouse gas trading or creating Western Canada’s first office to earn Environment Canada’s EcoLogo certification. Climate Change’s Calgary office uses recycled floor coverings, reused building
materials and energy efficient lighting that will save 21 tonnes of carbon emissions per year.

“The projects we’ve announced so far will reduce carbon emissions by the equivalent of 300,000 tonnes per year,” says Ms Lawrence. “While that seems small, we’re just getting started. A lot of the projects we’re involved in can be expanded. In about a year, we expect the effects to snowball.”

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