The pressure is on Alberta and everyone else also at COP26, admits the representative of the province

Alberta’s top representative at the world climate conference in Scotland has a message for those in the province who feel marked by pressure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

You are not alone.

“I’m sorry too,” said Steve MacDonald, CEO of Emissions Reduction Alberta, a provincial agency that helps fund carbon reduction initiatives.

“But you come here and listen to these other jurisdictions and they are struggling with the exact same issues. I think that’s very reassuring.”

One of only two Alberta delegates in Glasgow for the UN-sponsored COP26 meeting on climate change, MacDonald’s days have been full.

He has met with senior Canadian officials, including the new federal environment minister, Steven Guilbeault. He has made panel presentations and met with national delegates from the United Kingdom, the European Union, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Sweden, among others.

There are stands to meet people from different nations and companies. Coffee talks. And yes, social.

“Over a glass of wine you can have different conversations and build relationships with some of the most influential people in the world around the climate archive,” said MacDonald. “You can be as late as you want.”

You can ask questions, follow up on ideas, make personal contacts.

“It’s a bit like a club. You have to be here.”

#Alberta is not the only one facing the climate challenge, says the representative of the # COP26 of the province. #Climate Change #ABPoli

The occasional eyebrow goes up when he says “I’m from Alberta,” he said. Some condemn the province, along with its emissions.

And Alberta has a long way to go, acknowledges MacDonald. The United Conservative government is still crafting its climate change strategy, which it has promised to publish shortly.

But other countries want to hear about Alberta’s experience with carbon taxes, he said. They want to hear about your carbon capture technologies.

In return, MacDonald is all ears when it comes to measures like green bonds, a market-based way of raising money for renewable energy.

Alberta’s two-person delegation is the smallest of all Canada’s energy producing provinces, smaller even than delegations sent by groups like the Inuit Circumpolar Conference.

MacDonald does not feel overwhelmed. You learn to choose your places, he said.

“As (province), you have to be very determined.”

Alberta politicians often complain that the bar continues to rise for the province’s downsizing goals. Join the club, said MacDonald, everyone feels this way.

“The whole world is trying to meet the demands that we need to do more, faster.”

Plans that were bold five years ago are now only at stake, he said.

“The agenda has changed. There is a different level than what is expected.”

But Albertans shouldn’t feel like they have to solve those problems on their own, or that they are the only jurisdiction where climate change is a hot topic.

“When you go out and talk to people on a national and international level, you recognize that there are many jurisdictions struggling with the same issues.”

It’s hard for everyone, MacDonald said.

“Alberta is not the only jurisdiction that is heavily dependent on hydrocarbons,” he said. “Alberta’s challenges in terms of how quickly we can get to net zero, that’s a challenge that we share with the world.”

This Canadian Press report was first published on November 9, 2021.

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