EDMONTON—Members of the Alberta Green Economy Network (AGEN), a diverse coalition of Alberta-based green businesses, labour unions, NGOs, First Nations and Métis supporters, released the following statement in response to the government’s announcement on renewable energy:
Coal-fired power is not only a health concern, it is an economic problem. Coal-fired power is responsible for productivity losses due to the illness and mortality that it causes. The economic damages to Alberta associated with premature mortality from long-term exposure to coal-fired power were estimated at $262 million in 2008 and would climb to $382 million by 2024. Without an accelerated phase-out, the cumulative damage between 2008 and 2031 would be estimated at $7.58 billion.
“A coal phase-out is a critical step in improving the health of Albertans and the economy.” said Andy Kubrin of the Calgary Climate Action Network.“This policy announcement was a long time coming. But as we move away from coal, the transition to renewables must be fair, with support for workers every step of the way.”
“Pollution from coal-fired power is damaging to human health and is also costing the economy hundreds of millions of dollars every year,” said Joel French, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta. “If the government were not taking action, not only would the health of Albertans suffer, but it would cost Alberta $7.58 billion between 2008 and 2031 in health care costs, lost workforce productivity and early deaths.”
The government’s intention to replace most coal-fired power with renewables is laudable, but increasing the supply of natural gas will undermine the GHG reductions coming from the coal phase-out. Accordingly, the Alberta Green Economy Network has encouraged the government to move directly to renewables. It is not a good idea to make long-term investments in natural gas at a time when we are trying to move away from carbon-intensive fuels.
While coal-fired power must be phased out, the dedicated workers who supply Alberta’s electricity must not bear the brunt of this transition.
“Jobs in sustainable industries must be good, stable and well-paying.” said Shanthu Mano of C-Returns “As a job creator who designs and implements energy efficiency retrofits, I am proud to deliver good jobs to my employees, just as I deliver lower energy bills for my customers.”
The Alberta Green Economy Network (AGEN) brings together labour, NGO, green business and First Nations and Métis partners to advocate for policies that support a transition to a low-carbon economy.
In September 2015, AGEN sent a submission to the province’s Climate Change Advisory Panel outlining how the province could create more than 54,000 jobs a year while lowering the carbon emissions that are putting the planet’s climate in peril.
AGEN has been advocating for the following policies as key components of any climate plan:
Science-based emission reduction targets in line with other international and provincial jurisdictions
A target of 100% renewable energy by 2050
An energy efficiency strategy that would employ tens of thousands of Albertans while lowering energy bills
A price on carbon starting in 2016 at $50/tonne and rising to $120/tonne by 2025 to help fund green jobs, retrofits and transit while supporting low-income Albertans