As the ongoing political drama in Ottawa continues to unfold with Stéphane Dion‘s second (and near third) resignation, and Michael Ignatieff’s coup d’parti of the Liberal Party of Canada over Dominic LeBlanc and Bob Rae, there isn’t much media attention being paid to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP14) being held in Poznan, Poland.
Representing the Government of Alberta is a delegation led by Environment Minister Rob Renner, who is expected to be joined by Calgary MP and Federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice later this week. Also from Alberta, as part of the 26-member Canadian Youth Delegation (CYD), are Pembina Institute Policy Advisor Alex Doukas of Calgary and Christel Hyshka of Edmonton. You can follow CYD updates from Poznan over twitter at @CYDPoznan.
(UPDATE: Edmonton-Strathcona MP and NDP Environment critic Linda Duncan is also part of the Canadian delegation at the Poznan Conference)
Rumour had it that Premier Ed Stelmach might be attending, as it appeared the Government of Alberta had sent a point person to the City of Poznan a full two weeks ahead of the conference to “arrange things for the delegation” (which seems like a lot of effort for Renner).
The debate over CO2 storage and Carbon Capture (CCS) is being reported as a hot topic at the conference. Though the debate surrounds its use in Coal plants and transportation, I wonder if Minister Renner is feeling any heat over the recently released government report concluding that CCS would not be effective in Alberta’s oil sands. Research in CCS technology has focused on coal and transportation emission, contradicting speeches made by Stelmach during his trips across Canada, the United States, and Europe that the $2 billion tax-payer investment in CCS would green the oil sands.
Alberta’s oil sands continue to be the fastest-growing source of CO2 in Canada and are set to increase from 5% to 16% of total emissions by 2020 under current expansion plans.
Closer to home, the Oil Sands Tailings Conference 2008 is being held from October 7-10 in Edmonton. For those of you who forgot about northern Alberta’s toxic lakes after 500 ducks took a swim earlier this year, the Pembina Institute projects that by 2020, the oil sands will ‘create enough tailings ponds to fill 400,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools—that’s a surface area five times that of Sylvan Lake.‘
Albertans should also take note of a meeting today between former United States Vice President Al Gore, President-elect Barack Obama, and Vice President-elect Joe Biden to discuss the new administration’s environmental agenda. With a new administration in Washington D.C. taking over in January 2009, Albertans should be prepared to embrace the kinds of change in our environmental policy and oil sands extraction practices that may need to happen to adapt to the market realities of new energy and environmental policies south of the border.