Climate Change Follow-up
Climate change has far-reaching impacts on Alberta’s environment, economy and infrastructure, and on human health. With the release of its climate change strategy in 2008, the Government of Alberta recognized the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Alberta.1 The strategy sets Alberta’s emissions reduction targets for 2020 and 2050.
In 2008 we audited systems the government used to develop and report on the strategy. We concluded that the targets were based on an economic model that anticipated actions that were not part of the strategy. We also concluded that the Department of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development did not have a plan that identified specific actions to meet the targets and monitor the results.
In 2009 we audited the department’s implementation of the Specified Gas Emitters Regulation,2 a key component of the strategy. The SGE Regulation sets emission intensity limits for facilities that collectively produce half of greenhouse gas emissions in Alberta.
What we examined
We followed up on three of the ten recommendations from our 2008 and 2009 audits: planning to implement the strategy, monitoring performance against its targets, and reviewing technical reports the facilities submit under the SGE Regulation.
What we found
The department has not implemented our recommendations on planning and monitoring its climate change strategy. It has implemented our recommendation on reviewing facility reports.
We found no evidence that the department regularly monitored performance between 2008 and 2012 against the 2008 strategy targets. The department is only now preparing its first public report on the progress made on its 2008 strategy. Four years after the release of the strategy, the department completed an implementation plan with the intention to update the plan annually. The plan identified government-funded actions to reduce emissions. It also estimated the reductions, timing and allocated resources for each action. However, the plan has not been updated since it was first developed. Also, the plan lacked the information necessary to monitor performance of actions and the government’s overall progress with reducing greenhouse gas emissions and meeting its strategic targets. The department’s processes to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the plan’s data were ineffective.
The department has not yet developed criteria for selecting new climate change actions and evaluating existing ones.
Why this is important to Albertans
Planning for and monitoring the status of key actions and overall progress toward emissions reduction targets is key to the success of Alberta’s climate change strategy. Because of the environmental, economic and social significance of climate change, Albertans need to know how well the government’s strategies for reducing emissions are working.