Alberta Premier Rachel Notley takes aim at coal-fired power plants

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says she is planning to move ahead with her strategy to fight climate change — and she has coal-fired power plants in her sights.

Wants Canada to be climate-change world leader, not 'political football,' referring to Keystone XL rejection

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says the key parts of her climate change plan will be unveiled soon, starting with an accelerated phase-out of coal-fired power plants. (Marta Iwanek/Canadian Press)

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says she is planning to move ahead with her strategy to fight climate change — and she has coal-fired power plants in her sights.

"Coal is a high-carbon fuel that we currently depend on for more than half of our electricity in Alberta," Notley said in a prepared speech she gave Thursday evening in Toronto.

"In its place, we must encourage lower carbon natural gas and zero-carbon renewables," she said.

Notley says her government will unveil an energy efficiency program soon, starting with an accelerated phase-out of coal-fired power plants.

She points out Alberta is one of the last places in North America to address energy conservation.

'Political football'

In her address, Notley also warns the energy sector will not be able to support thousands of well-paying direct and indirect jobs across the country if governments continue with discredited and failed policies of the past.

"Canada needs to become a world leader on climate change — a world leader instead of the world's political football, as we were at the hands of our principal market and partner last week," she said in a speech at the Broadbent Institute Progress Gala.

Last Friday U.S. President Barack Obama denied a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, a project that would have transported huge volumes of bitumen from Alberta's oilsands to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Notley said since the NDP took power last May it has been working on a climate change strategy for Alberta. Some details are to be announced before she leaves later this month for the UN climate change conference in Paris.

She said her government's priorities include using less coal to fuel electricity generating plants, introducing an energy efficiency program and other measures to reduce carbon emissions.

Alberta has already announced that it will double its carbon levy on large industrial emitters within two years.

"We will do what needs to be done," she told the crowd. "So that Alberta and Canada can stand together before the world in Paris, and for decades to come, as one of the world's most progressive and environmentally responsible energy producers."

Changing 'orthodoxies'

Notley said her government is also determined to challenge what she called other "orthodoxies" of the past by pushing for better policies for child care, parental leave and a higher minimum wage.

She said setting a longer-term goal for balancing Alberta's budget will allow her government to support key areas such as health and education without damaging basic public services.

Notley called the plan moderate, mainstream and constructive.

"A plan in the great tradition of prairie progressive government," she said.

"A tradition that stands as Canada's best alternative to the wrong priorities, failed policies and bad decisions of conservative rule."

With files from The Canadian Press

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