Alberta government assembles diverse panel to meet GHG targets in oil sands

CALGARY -- Alberta Premier Rachel Notley’s NDP government has assembled a diverse 18-member oil sands advisory panel to prepare the industry for keeping greenhouse gas emissions under a target of 100 megatonnes by 2030. Current oil-sands emissions are estimated at 70 megatonnes.

The makeup of the panel shows how some oil companies and green groups have moved from polarized positions and are trying to achieve their goals through consensus, told panel co-chair Tzeporah Berman, a climate campaigner formerly with Greenpeace and ForestEthics, to the Globe and Mail.

The other co-chairs are Dave Collyer, former president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, and Melody Lepine, director of government and industry relations for the Mikisew Cree First Nation.

“The first six months will be focused on implementing the new climate policy, and specifically around the emissions limits,” said Ms. Berman, who has worked closely with Steve Williams, chief executive officer of Suncor Energy Inc., to find common ground with the oil sands sector on green policies.

The panel includes representatives from Suncor, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., Cenovus Energy Inc., Environmental Defence, the Pembina Institute, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo and Fort McMurray Métis.

Besides climate issues, the group will deal with local and regional effects of development, including those on air, water and biodiversity. It will also make recommendations for how to deal with issues that could affect the oil sands between 2030 and 2050.