Premier Rachel Notley wants federal carbon-tax revenues to stay in Alberta

Alberta would support the federal NDP climate-change plan, which includes a national cap-and-trade system to make big polluters pay, provided any money raised stays in the province, says Premier Rachel Notley.

Three-day trip takes premier to meetings in Montreal, New York and Toronto

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne met with Alberta Premier Rachel Notley at Queen's Park in Toronto on Thursday. (Marta Iwanek/Canadian Press )

Alberta would support the federal NDP climate-change plan, which includes a national cap-and-trade system to make big polluters pay, provided any money raised stays in the province, says Premier Rachel Notley.

Notley travelled east this week for meetings and speeches in Montreal, New York and Toronto. At every stop she has been asked to clarify her position on federal NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair's climate-change plan.

The Mulcair plan calls for Canada to achieve a 34-per-cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, compared to 1990 levels, by the year 2030.

Alberta's NDP premier said Thursday said she supports the overall framework of Mulcair's plan and the intention to move Canada toward what she called "meaningful" emissions reductions.

But there was a caveat.

"One of the things that I would be nervous about," Notley said, "is a plan, regardless of what it was called and who put it forward, that resulted in capital moving out of Alberta. Because I think that, if resources are allocated from emissions producers in Alberta, that they should stay in Alberta to assist in … our own efforts to bring down emissions."

Mulcair said over the weekend that an NDP federal government would not impose its national plan on provinces such as Alberta, B.C., Ontario and Quebec that have developed their own systems to control emissions.

Instead, Mulcair said his plan would allow provinces and territories to opt out, as long as their carbon-pricing plans are equal to or better than federal objectives.

He stressed the proposed plan would not become a "revenue generator" for the federal government and promised that revenue raised by putting a price on carbon would go back to the provinces to help them cut greenhouse gases.

Notley was asked if a 34-per-cent reduction is realistic for Alberta. She said the province will set its own targets after a climate-change panel appointed this summer issues its final report, expected sometime this fall.

"Ultimately, when it comes to what Alberta will do, specifically in terms of targets, I'm going to wait for my climate-change panel to report to me," she said.

Notley repeated the message that the best chance Alberta has to secure much-needed new markets for its vast oil wealth rests on its ability to first clean up its own environmental record.

"As far as I'm concerned, it's critically important for our economy that we diversify our energy markets," the premier said.

"And I think that the single best thing the government of Alberta can do to achieve that goal is to make better decisions about the environment. Quite frankly, that's going to be our focus. We will then be able to debate pipeline proposals on their economic and environmental merits."

Notley wrapped up her first major out-of-province tour by meeting Thursday with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne to discuss the economy, jobs and the Energy East pipeline.

"I made the case," Notley said, "that the ability to diversify our markets for the energy industry in Alberta is not only good for the energy industry in Alberta but is good for the Canadian economy as a whole.

"She (Wynne) allowed for the fact that our renewed focus on bringing into place a thoughtful environmental policy framework, including the work we're doing on climate change, would make it much easier for Ontario to address those issues."

At a joint news conference after the meeting, Wynne said there are 1,100 companies in Ontario that depend at least in part on Alberta's oilsands.

Notley was also asked about an ATB Financial fourth-quarter forecast that calls for Alberta to remain in a recession throughout 2015 and well into next year.

"We're aware that recovery may be a bit slower than was originally projected," she said. "And it's within that context that we've been working on our budget."