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A hard cap on oilsands emissions that became part of Alberta Premier Rachel Notley’s climate change plan was the product of secret negotiations between four top oilsands companies and four environmental organizations, the Financial Post has learned.
The companies agreed to the cap in exchange for the environmental groups backing down on opposition to oil export pipelines, but the deal left other players on the sidelines, and that has created a deep division in Canada’s oil and gas sector.
Four oilsands leaders — Murray Edwards, the billionaire oil investor and chairman of Canadian Natural Resources Ltd.; Steve Williams, president and CEO of Suncor Energy Inc.; Lorraine Mitchelmore, president of Shell Canada; Brian Ferguson, president and CEO of Cenovus Energy Inc. — stood behind Notley Nov. 22 as she announced an aggressive climate change plan for Alberta.
In addition to imposing a $3-billion a year economy-wide carbon tax and phasing out coal-fired electricity generation, the plan strictly caps the oilsands’ share of provincial emissions at 100 megatonnes per year, from about 70 megatonnes today.
The plan is a big part of Canada’s offering to the UN climate change summit under way in Paris.
During the Edmonton announcement, the four leaders praised the plan, with Williams describing it as a “game changer” for the oilsands.
Notley indicated in her speech that it could lead to less opposition to pipelines to export Alberta oil sands production.
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