The Climate Reregulation Tracker identifies steps taken by the Biden-Harris administration to reinstate and expand federal climate mitigation and adaptation measures that were rolled back or eliminated in the preceding four years, as well as new policies to address previously unregulated areas of climate law.

Columbia Law School
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Edmonton’s greenhouse gas emissions have gone down. The city is studying why.

Emissions dropped to 17.3M tonnes in 2019, then 15.7M tonnes in 2020

Total greenhouse gas emissions in the City of Edmonton dropped by the equivalent of 2.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide over two years, data shows — and work is being done to find out exactly why.

Total emissions hovered around the 18-million-tonne range from 2015 to 2018. In 2019, emissions dropped about 900,000 tonnes to 17.3 million tonnes. In 2020, emissions totalled 15.7 million tonnes, data shows.

“I am incredibly excited that we’ve finally peaked and are on the decline for emissions,” said Chandra Tomaras, the city’s director of environment and climate resilience, a section of the environment, climate change and energy department.

“It’s very encouraging and has me really optimistic that these big, bold targets are achievable.”

The city’s 2021 emissions data should be released some time in early 2022, after calculations are complete, Tomaras said.

The city tracks how much greenhouse gases it emits each year through burning fossil fuels, decomposition of waste and landfill sites, industrial processes, chemical use, and livestock and land. It also tracks how much emissions are naturally absorbed from the air through vegetation, such as urban forests and the river valley.

In 2015, council approved the Community Energy Transition Strategy. By 2035, it aims to cut emissions by 35 per cent, energy consumption by 25 per cent and see 10 per cent of Edmonton’s electricity locally generated, compared to 2005 levels.

By 2019, however, global research suggested those goals wouldn’t be enough to limit global warming and prevent the worst impacts of climate change.

The city declared a climate emergency and moved to amend its strategy so its goals aligned to prevent an 1.5-degree temperature increase.

In April, the updated strategy was released. It’s a phased plan to make Edmonton a carbon-neutral city by 2050, with emissions targets the city will aim to hit along the way.

The first target: emit the equivalent of 11.8 million tonnes of CO2 in 2025.

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Wind and solar: A robust forecast for renewable energy in Alberta

Lower costs spur growth of wind, solar, while coal-fired electricity generation continues rapid decline

The demise of coal-fired electricity plants in Alberta has been well documented in recent years, but it’s happening a lot quicker than some expected. The Alberta government’s target to eliminate coal-powered electricity is expected to be achieved seven years ahead of its scheduled date of 2030.

What’s happening without much fanfare, though, is the transition from coal to renewable energy sources and the pace of the change.

The Alberta Electric System Operator says of all the electricity generated in the province in 2020, 14 per cent came from renewable energy sources, such as wind, hydro and solar. The number for 2021 is expected in the next few months.

The province’s total capacity of renewable energy sources is 23 per cent. 

The Canada Energy Regulator (CER) says that number is likely to grow in the coming years, fuelled in part by more investment in renewable energy projects.

The CER predicts the total capacity of renewable energy sources in Alberta will reach 26 per cent by 2023. It expects the province to add “significant” solar capacity, or 1,200 megawatts, by the same year.

The provincial government’s Renewable Electricity Act has a legislated target that 30 per cent of electricity generated must come from renewable energy sources by 2030. An interim target for next year is 15 per cent.

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