By taking leadership on climate action “we can grow our own communities and create good jobs while we do it”: Shannon Phillips, Alberta

Ilario D'Amato
6 March 2018

Shannon Phillips, Minister Responsible for the Climate Change Office, Alberta

NEW YORK: The Canadian province of Alberta is working with communities and other forward-thinking jurisdictions to take action on climate change because “it’s that kind of leadership that is going to make sure that we can create good jobs and prosperity for everyone,” said Shannon Phillips, Minister Responsible for the Climate Change Office, Alberta, in a Climate TV interview at Climate Week NYC 2017.

To move this leadership forward, Alberta is also hosting the Cities & Climate Change Science Conference in Edmonton, as part of the CitiesIPCC campaign led by C40 and ICLEI, to ask the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to focus on the active role of cities – and per extension, of sub-national governments at every level – on tackling climate change.

“What’s so important for the province of Alberta is to be able to reach out to other places that are taking action on climate change –  to learn from other states, regions cities and provinces around the world,” said Minister Phillips in her interview, “because we’re all facing the same challenges, but we’ve all got our eye on the same solutions as well.”


Between 1990 and 2015, greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in Alberta increased by 56%, primarily due to the increase in the oil and gas industry for export markets: in fact, the province’s oilsands are home to the third largest proven reserves of oil in the world.

To tackle this, Alberta’s government has released its Climate Leadership plan to put a price on GHG emissions, end pollution from coal-generated electricity by 2030, develop more renewable energy, cap oil sands emissions to 100 megatons per year and reduce methane emissions by 45% by 2025.

“We are investing in renewables, we are investing in energy efficiency, we’re creating good jobs while we do it,” confirmed Minister Phillips in her interview. “There are so many examples from around the world of people taking leadership in their communities, in their states, in their regions – and it’s that kind of leadership that is going to make sure that we can create good jobs and prosperity for everyone.”

In the last few years, Alberta has put in place a series of bold policies to open renewable energy opportunities in Canada. “It is the largest market for renewables, and we’re creating thousands of jobs while we do it and attracting billions of dollars in new investment,” continued Minister Phillips.

“That’s exactly the kind of action that will move our province forward into a cleaner future. We are an energy province, and so we’ve got the expertise and the energy. We’re going to leverage that and make sure that we create good jobs for Albertans, but there are so many other places that are doing this work: the world is moving forward and we’re enthusiastically embracing our opportunity to lead in that space.”


Alberta is an active partner of The Climate Group’s Energy Transition Platform, which connects 11 highly industrialized, carbon-intensive states and regions to share their experiences and successes –  so they can learn from each other and create the most effective climate policies.

As a member of the Community Renewables Innovation Lab, Alberta is learning from the example of partner regions in Minnesota, Wales and the Basque Country to support the roll-out of community renewables in the province.

In the Energy Efficiency in Buildings Innovation Lab, the Government of Alberta has shown how they have supported 1,200 businesses, non-profits and institutions and 50,000 households to increase their energy efficiency through renovations or energy efficient products, expected to result in CAD$300 million (US$231.5 million) in energy cost savings and 3 million tons GHG avoided.

“The Energy Transition Platform has really allowed Alberta to work with other states and regions around the world that face similar challenges,” said Minister Phillips in the interview. “There are places where historically there has been a high-carbon economy, places like South Australia or North Rhine-Westphalia: these are areas that are also undergoing the same changes and challenges that Alberta is, and they’ve also got creative solutions.”

“Being able to learn from those jurisdictions has been really important to us. The biggest thing is that there’s so much opportunity, and when you talk to other provinces, states, regions, cities, you see how much jobs, economic activity, wealth and prosperity can be generated through climate action. The environment and the economy go hand-in-hand, particularly in the 21st century, as we look to solve these big problems of climate change.”


Last December, Alberta auctioned off 595 megawatts of renewable energy capacity to be built in the province – largely exceeding the government’s target of 400 megawatts, demonstrating once again how investing in clean technologies is good for the environment and the local communities too.

To make this a just transition towards a cleaner, healthier and more prosperous economy for all, Alberta has also created a Coal Community Transition Fund, to support municipalities and First Nations impacted by the phase-out of coal in the province.

“The Climate Group has allowed our province to learn from other places and learn that leadership is not only possible but necessary,” concluded Minister Phillips, “and in so doing that we can grow our own communities and create good jobs while we do it – and that's really the most important focus for us as a province. It’s wonderful to learn from other jurisdictions that are doing the same and have the same goals.”

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