Air Quality

Alberta was the first North American jurisdiction to introduce a GHG emission reduction policy, which is currently one of the most rigorous in Canada.

In 2015, the Government of Alberta updated the Specified Gas Emitters Regulations (SGER) for all large industrial emitters – 100,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year – including existing oil sands facilities:

  • Starting January 2016: 15% reduction in GHG intensity or a payment in lieu of $20 per tonne
  • Starting January 2017: 20% reduction in GHG intensity or a payment in lieu of $30 per tonne

Since its implementation in 2007, the legislation has resulted in GHG emission reductions of approximately 23 megatonnes in Alberta or the equivalent of taking 4.8 million cars off the road for one year.

The money collected is invested into a fund managed by the Climate Change and Emissions Management Corporation (CCEMC), an independent non-profit organization, and used towards GHG reduction projects and technologies. To date, the fund has financed 109 projects aimed at reducing GHG emissions, with almost 37 per cent of investment from the oil sands sector with:

  • $11.5 million invested in carbon capture and storage technology
  • $37.7 million invested in energy efficiency technology

Air quality monitoring

Over the past 40 years, the Government of Alberta has been conducting environmental monitoring activities under the Environment Protection and Enhancement Act. As natural resource development activities have increased significantly in that time – particularly within the oil sands region in northern Alberta – the province has recognized the need to strengthen its monitoring, evaluation and reporting activities, especially in terms of understanding the cumulative effects and impact on the environment.

The Wood Buffalo Environmental Association (WBEA) monitors the environment of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo in north-eastern Alberta. WBEA operates in an area where the main industry is oil sands development and operates the most extensive ambient air network in Alberta with 17 air monitoring stations and 23 passive monitoring stations to date.