The Renewed Clean Air Strategy
The Strategy: The History
Clean Air Strategy for Alberta, 1991
In the 1980s and early 1990s, national and international discussions on the impact of fossil fuels on global warming, acid deposition, and smog were of particular significance for Alberta as an energy producing province. In response, Alberta led an extensive consultation process to encourage public discussion of air emissions resulting from the production and use of energy. This consultation helped to:
- Identify and clarify the most important issues associated with energy production and use;
- Outline practical and achievable actions to be taken by consumers and producers to reduce emissions; and
- Develop policy and program recommendations for the Government of Alberta.
From this consultation, Alberta’s first provincial strategy – the Clean Air Strategy for Alberta: Report to the Ministers – was developed.
The 1991 strategy was very forward-thinking and articulated a shared vision for, and commitment to, air quality management in the province. This strategy fostered collaboration and stewardship and stimulated improved environmental performance through emissions reductions, technological advancements, and enhanced knowledge. It also gave rise to successful multi-stakeholder associations, including the Clean Air Strategic Alliance (1994) and airshed zone organizations that currently monitor and report on air quality in the province.
The Strategy: The Renewal
Alberta is committed to continued air quality management and recognizes that issues have evolved since 1991. Waves of population growth, increased development on the landscape, and the rise of new challenges and opportunities, means our management approach must evolve to become more outcomes-focused and holistic. The approach must consider the cumulative impacts of activities and decisions and better balance the social, economic and environmental interests of Albertans.
New challenges and opportunities requiring us to renew our strategic approach to air management include:
- A need to address implications of increased growth and development on the capacity of Alberta’s airsheds;
- Increased public interest in air quality issues and related health impacts;
- A need for increased policy coordination, including transitioning to a cumulative effects management approach to meet regional outcomes under Alberta’s Land-Use Framework; and
- Development of a new national Air Quality Management System where federal, provincial and territorial governments will engage stakeholders to develop national standards and work toward continuous improvement in overall air quality in Canada.
The Government of Alberta asked the Clean Air Strategic Alliance (CASA) to reflect upon the new realities and challenges facing our province and to develop recommendations for the government to consider as it renewed the original Clean Air Strategy for Alberta. CASA undertook a comprehensive, open and transparent public consultation process to assess public perceptions of air quality, evaluate air quality problems and issues in the province, and identify key areas for action by all parties.
Participant feedback was used to formulate 14 recommendations and 71 suggested actions, which were provided to Government in July 2009.
The recommendations highlighted four key areas of focus:
- Regional Planning,
- Pollution Prevention and Control, and
- Knowledge and Information.
Clearing the Air: Alberta's Renewed Clean Air Strategy, 2012
Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, collaboratively with other government partner Ministries, reviewed and incorporated the intent of the 14 recommendations and many of the suggested actions submitted by the Clean Air Strategic Alliance into Clearing the Air: Alberta’s Renewed Clean Air Strategy and Clearing the Air: Action Plan.
The Government of Alberta held three focus group sessions with targeted stakeholders to test the direction of Clearing the Air: Alberta’s Renewed Clean Air Strategy and Action Plan. The feedback that emerged helped solidify the direction of the renewed strategy and action plan.
Action Plan, 2012
The renewed strategy is guided by an action plan. The action plan outlines short, medium, and long-term actions for the next ten years that will enhance Alberta’s existing Air Quality Management System.