This paper aims to track the development of climate policy in the province of Alberta, Canada, particularly the province’s unique greenhouse gas emission offset mechanism. The analysis shows how the policy has influenced, and been influenced by, policy processes at the national and international levels.
The paper begins with an analytical framework that recognizes different types of influence between international, national and provincial climate policy processes. That framework is used to structure a review of four historical periods of climate policy change: prior to 1992, 1992 to 2002, 2002 to 2012 and between 2012 and mid-2015.
The analysis illustrates the interplay between the Alberta approach to climate policy and the international and national policy contexts. A period of intense policy conflict between Canada’s federal and provincial governments led to a situation in which the Alberta Government sought to lead rather than follow national policy. Subsequent periods have seen the Canadian national government oscillate between following the lead of Alberta or the USA.
Rather than national and international policies simply setting the context for Alberta’s policy, the paper identifies multiple flows of influence between the three levels of governance. The results illustrate the need to consider forward and backward flows of influence between the different levels of government that set climate change policies. Elements of several models of policy change are supported.
The Alberta climate mitigation policy has many elements that can be effective in reducing carbon emissions in a way that is both flexible and predictable. These elements are of interest to other jurisdictions. Other elements of the current policy, however, limit its effectiveness in reducing emissions. More concerted policy action is needed to mitigate carbon emissions in Alberta for Canada to meet its agreed targets.
No other paper has tracked the historical evolution of climate policy at the provincial/state level in a way that clarifies the forward and backward linkages with national and international policy.
The authors acknowledge the research assistance provided by Caitlin Schmidt and Yichuan Wang.
Swallow, B. and Goddard, T. (2016), "Developing Alberta’s greenhouse gas offset system within Canadian and international policy contexts", International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management, Vol. 8 No. 3, pp. 318-337. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJCCSM-04-2015-0040Download as .RIS
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