July 19 (UPI) -- Greenhouse gas emissions from Alberta are on the decline in part because of alternate fuels in the transportation sector, leaders said.
The provincial government of Alberta announced $53 million (USD) is available through its Emissions Reduction Alberta Biotechnology, Electricity and Sustainable Transportation program. The funding would draw in new investments that would diversify the oil-rich economy.
Teresa Ehman, the director of environmental affairs for Air Canada, said the company is investing billions of dollars in building a fuel-efficient and cleaner fleet.
"To date, we have operated eight biofuel flights and will continue to advocate for the development of sustainable aviation biofuels in Canada," she said in a statement.
The International Civil Aviation Organization, a U.N. agency, at a Montreal conference in 2016 agreed on new market-based measures to cut emissions of carbon dioxide, a potent greenhouse gas, from international aviation beginning with a pilot phase starting in 2021.
The International Council on Clean Transportation, for its part, said fuel efficiency is one of the main drivers for a cleaner aviation sector. Ehman said that, since 1990, the airline has improved its fuel efficiency by 43 percent.
The latest initiative is part of a broader $1 billion, seven-year investment aimed at diversifying a provincial economy that depends heavily on oil revenue.
"We are looking for innovative technologies that will strengthen Alberta's economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions," Shannon Phillips, the minister of environment and parks, said.
More than $54 million was provided in May through the provincial Oil Sands Innovation Challenge to demonstrate commercial technology that could reduce greenhouse gas emissions from production.
Alberta itself aims to limit its own emissions and nine different companies, from Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. to the Canadian subsidiary of ConocoPhillips, had projects selected for funding.
Alberta is the top oil producer in Canada, but has taken steps to add layers of diversity to an economy that was left exposed to the decline in crude oil prices two years ago.