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Alberta ‘quiet leader’ for carbon offsets

Alberta agriculture is getting some positive press for a trend in reduced- and no-till farming that has been developing for much of the past 10 years, in spite of off-and-on support from the federal government.

May 25, 2009  By Calgary Herald

May 25, 2009

Dave Cooper

A system of carbon dioxide offsets pioneered in Alberta for farmers may soon be a key part of the rapidly emerging cap-and-trade business that aims to reduce overall emissions and will have a major impact on the coal-fired electrical power plants and oil industry in this province.


With the start of new global climate talks in December in Copenhagen–to replace the Kyoto Protocol by 2012–the rush is on.

The United States expects to have a cap-and-trade law in place this fall, and Ottawa is expected to announce a discussion paper on proposed regulations for a national carbon trading market within weeks, with regulations also ready by the fall.

Manitoba, BC, Ontario and Quebec, along with seven U.S. states, have been planning a regional cap-and-trade system by 2012 under the Western Climate Initiative.

Earlier this month, Saskatchewan announced it would set up a similar carbon-offset structure -a system likely to mirror Alberta's as both depend heavily on thermal coal to generate electricity, and have strong agriculture sectors.

This year in Alberta, the number of registered carbon-offset projects jumped to 25 from seven in 2007, and totalled 3.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, according to Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development. Ten of the projects were minimum-till or no-till agriculture projects, which contribute less carbon dioxide to the atmosphere than conventional farming. It's estimated the agricultural offsets sold for between $11 and$13.50 per tonne last year, equal to about $11 million paid back to the sector.

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