Climate change is a global challenge and requires a global solution. Through analysis and dialogue, the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions is working with governments and stakeholders to identify practical and effective options for the post-2012 international climate framework. Read more
Rooftop solar panels in central India.
Photo courtesy Coshipi via Flickr
A bold initiative to vastly expand solar energy in developing countries recently reached two major milestones toward its ultimate goal of mobilizing $1 trillion in solar investments by 2030.
In late June, the World Bank Group signed an agreement establishing it as a financial partner of the International Solar Alliance, providing more than $1 billion in support. The Bank Group will develop a roadmap and work with other multilateral development banks and financial institutions to mobilize financing for development and deployment of affordable solar energy.
The news follows the June 7 joint announcement between India and the United States to launch an initiative through the Alliance focusing on off-grid solar energy.
The International Solar Alliance was announced at the Paris climate conference in December by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President François Hollande. It was one of many new initiatives involving business, civil society, and public-private partnerships launched in Paris.
The alliance will comprise 121 countries located between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Tropic of Cancer that typically have 300 or more days of sunshine a year. Companies involved in the project include Areva, HSBC France and Tata Steel.
According to the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21), global solar capacity experienced record growth in 2015, with the annual market for new capacity up 25 percent over 2014. More than 50 gigawatts were added, bringing the total global capacity to about 227 gigawatts. That’s about 10 percent of the total amount of electricity the U.S. produced in 2015.
In developing and emerging economies, affordable financing is a challenge. The alliance will work to expand solar power primarily in countries that are resource-rich but energy-poor by mobilizing public finance from richer states to deliver universal energy access. Strategies include lowering financing costs, developing common standards, encouraging knowledge sharing and facilitating R&D collaborations.
President Hollande laid the foundation stone of the International Solar Alliance at the National Institute of Solar Energy in Gurgaon, Haryana in January, marking the first time India has hosted the headquarters of an international agency. The Indian government is investing an initial $30 million to set up the headquarters. The French Development Agency has earmarked over 300 million euros for the next five years to finance the alliance’s first batch of projects.
The solar alliance complements India’s own ambitious solar energy goals, which include a 2030 target of 40 percent of electric power capacity from non-fossil fuel energy sources as part of its intended nationally determined contribution to the Paris Agreement. India also plans to develop 100GW of solar power by 2022, a 30-fold increase in installed capacity.
The growing support for the solar alliance is evidence of rising political momentum around the world to act on climate change and transition to a low-carbon economy. Look for a third major milestone in September, when the Alliance meets for its inaugural Founding Conference in Delhi.
The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer is considered the world’s most successful international environmental treaty.
Under the Protocol, nations phased out chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) – a class of compounds that were used mostly in aerosol sprays, refrigerants, foams and as solvents, and were damaging the protective ozone layer that shields the planet from harmful ultraviolet radiation. Recent evidence shows that the ozone hole over Antarctica is beginning to repair itself because of efforts under the Protocol to reduce ozone-depleting substances.
Because ozone-depleting substances and many of their substitutes are also potent greenhouse gases, their phase-out under the Montreal Protocol is critical to international efforts to address climate change.
Negotiations are under way to amend the Montreal Protocol to now phase down the replacements for CFCs and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). These alternatives, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), while not harmful to the ozone layer, are a fast-growing source of potent greenhouse gases contributing to climate change.
Because HFCs have a relatively short atmospheric lifetime (compared to carbon dioxide), their phasedown could reduce temperature changes in 2100 by an estimated 0.5 degrees Celsius. These reductions are critical to meeting the long-term goal of the Paris Agreement to keep warming well below 2 degrees.
The Montreal Protocol is a part of the 1985 Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer, which commits its 197 parties to protect human health and environment against “adverse effects” of human-induced changes to the ozone layer.
The Montreal Protocol, which was adopted in 1987 and entered into force in 1989, limits the consumption and production of ozone-depleting substances. Since its entry into force, the Montreal Protocol has phased out over 98 percent of the world’s consumption of ozone-depleting substances.
Key Issues Ahead
Under the Dubai Pathway adopted in 2015, parties to the Montreal Protocol have agreed to work toward adoption of an amendment in 2016 to phase down HFCs. HFCs are widely used in refrigeration and air conditioning, foam blowing, and other applications and often replace CFCs and HCFCs. Though they now account for less than 1 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, HFCs are extremely potent greenhouse gases whose use is projected to grow rapidly, particularly in developing countries phasing out HCFCs.
Parties are meeting in July 2016 and October 2016 to attempt to finalize an amendment to the protocol. Key issues include:
- Funding for developing nations for HFC replacements
A significant feature of the Montreal Protocol is its Multilateral Fund, established to provide funds and facilitate the transfer of technologies to help developing countries comply with their obligations under the protocol. Although the costs associated with patents and royalties are eligible for funding under the Multilateral Fund, parties have raised concerns that patents on the production and use of recently developed low global warming potential substitutes for HFCs could restrict their access to, or increase the cost of, transitioning to these alternatives.
- Exemption for air conditioning in countries with high ambient temperatures
One critical concern is whether suitable alternatives for air-conditioning applications are available and adequately demonstrated for cooling capacity and energy efficiency under conditions of high ambient temperatures. Given the critical importance of these applications, one option being considered by parties is to provide a time-limited exemption for those uses in extremely hot countries.
- Baseline and phase-down schedule
A range of proposals have been put forward by parties for setting baselines and phase down schedules for both developed and developing countries. Past control schedules have typically allowed for a 10-year delay between controls on developed and developing countries. A control schedule that sets near-term baselines, limits the lag time between controls developed and developing countries, and achieves an ambitious phase down schedule will deliver the greatest climate benefits.
- Maximizing Energy Efficiency Gains
In shifting to new low global warming refrigerants, parties have the opportunity to select new refrigerants and equipment that maximize the gains in energy efficiency. Air conditioning and refrigeration are significant and rapidly growing energy use sectors in developing countries and efforts under the Multilateral Fund to incentivize energy efficiency gains could double the climate change benefits from a shift to low global warming gases.
- Ten Myths About Intellectual Property Rights and the Montreal Protocol (2016)
- Status of Legal Challenges: Patents Related to the Use of HFO1234YF in Auto Air Conditioning (2016)
- Approaches to Structuring a High Ambient Temperature Exemption (2016)
- Blog: Action on HFCs Heats Up (2016)
- Blog: Significant Progress Toward Limiting HFCs under the Montreal Protocol (2015)
- Technological Change in the Production Sector under the Montreal Protocol (2015)
- Patents and the Role of the Multilateral Fund (2015)
- Addressing Short-Lived Climate Pollutants
Statement of Bob Perciasepe
President, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions
June 29, 2016
On the North American Climate, Clean Energy, and Environment Partnership Action Plan:
By pledging to power their economies with more clean energy, the leaders of Canada, Mexico and the United States are showing the way toward a more sustainable future.
Generating half of North American electricity from non-emitting sources by 2025 is ambitious but it’s achievable.
By developing goals and strategies for 2050 and beyond, the three countries also will be charting a clearer course toward achieving the aims of the Paris Agreement, and setting a strong example for other countries.
Canada, Mexico and the United States have connected economies. Working together can make all three economies stronger and more sustainable, and reduce the costly risks of climate change.
To speak to a C2ES expert, contact Laura Rehrmann at email@example.com
About C2ES: The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization promoting strong policy and action to address the challenges of energy and climate change. Learn more at www.c2es.org.
A central feature of the Paris Agreement is a stronger transparency system requiring countries to regularly report on their emissions and their national climate efforts.
At the international level, this provides a critical means of accountability by letting countries see whether others are sticking to their commitments.
But one of the key messages that emerged at last month’s U.N. climate negotiations in Bonn, Germany — including at a side event organized by C2ES — is that greater transparency has important benefits back at home, too.
The May climate meeting, the first since negotiators adopted the Paris Agreement, featured a first-ever facilitative sharing of views (FSV) for developing countries. Thirteen developing country parties gave presentations on their first biennial reports on their efforts to reduce emissions, required under the 2010 Cancún Agreements, and responded to questions from other parties.
These countries, were applauded for their efforts and their achievements. Most of them focused on the challenges they faced in fulfilling their reporting obligations, the lessons learned in addressing or overcoming these obstacles, and what they might need to do more.
Many of these lessons were echoed in a C2ES side event, “Learning from UNFCCC Transparency Experience: Perspectives of Parties and Expert Reviewers.” The event featured negotiators and technical experts from Canada, the European Commission, New Zealand, South Africa and Brazil, with the latter two countries just having completed the FSV.
Both developed and developing countries said compiling their reports benefited them domestically by stimulating regular conversations among various levels of government and with nongovernment stakeholders. The process also helped institutionalize measurement, reporting and verification (MRV), and identified opportunities to strengthen domestic climate policies.
In two other side events hosted by the UNFCCC secretariat, Uruguay, Vietnam, Ghana and Peru reflected on their experiences under the existing transparency framework. Regular reporting and review is a significant undertaking, and they learned how much time and coordination is required. Even so, their initial experiences proved to be interactive and facilitative. Countries were provided assistance in their own language, and could communicate easily with experts and staff through technology like Skype.
The co-chairs of a new working group that will develop detailed decisions implementing the Paris Agreement also took up these themes, asking parties to share their experiences and lessons learned from the existing MRV arrangements. These lessons will also inform the next session of FSV, which will take place in Marrakech, Morocco, during COP 22.
Parties hope these lessons will inform the new rulebook that must be developed for the “enhanced transparency framework” called for in the Paris Agreement. One of the key takeaways is that by learning as they go, countries significantly improve the quality of their reporting, and their own policymaking becomes more effective as a result.
Statement of Bob Perciasepe
President, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions
June 7, 2016
On US-India efforts on climate change:
The United States and India are taking another positive step toward a low-carbon future with Tuesday’s joint statement on climate and clean energy. Prime Minister Modi’s announcement that India will strive to ratify the Paris Agreement by the end of the year puts the agreement closer to entering into force and builds momentum for more nations to do the same. The sooner the agreement takes effect, the sooner all nations can begin fulfilling its promises.
The pledge of cooperation between the two nations on phasing out hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) under the Montreal Protocol is also encouraging news. Curtailing this potent greenhouse gas will further accelerate efforts to avoid further warming and reduce global temperatures by the end of the century.
To speak to a C2ES expert, contact Marty Niland at firstname.lastname@example.org
About C2ES: The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization promoting strong policy and action to address the challenges of energy and climate change. Learn more at www.c2es.org.
PREPARED REMARKS BY ELLIOT DIRINGER
EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR CLIMATE AND ENERGY SOLUTIONS
THE PARIS CLIMATE AGREEMENT: A TURNING POINT FOR THE OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY?
JUNE 6, 2016
Thank you, Martin, for the kind introduction. And my thanks to APPEA for inviting me to be with you here this morning.
I appreciate the opportunity to share some views on the landmark Paris Agreement, and on its implications not only for the future of natural gas, but for the future of the oil and gas industry as a whole.
I’d like to touch on five areas:
- First, the logic, and the most pertinent aspects, of the Paris Agreement;
- Second, what the agreement’s long-term goals imply for future energy use;
- Third, how the Paris Agreement is intensifying social and political pressures on the fossil fuel industry;
- Fourth, how I see the industry responding; and
- Finally, some thoughts from an interested observer on how the industry can work to ensure a more sustainable path for itself, and for the planet.
First, though, I’d like to tell you who we are. C2ES is a US-based NGO working to advance practical and effective climate policies in the United States and internationally.
We’re an independent organization, but we work closely with major companies committed to addressing climate change.
Our Business Environmental Leadership Council includes 30 companies, most in the Fortune 500. They span the major sectors of the economy, and include large energy producers and consumers, including three members of APPEA – BHP Billiton, BP and Shell.
In addition to our work with companies, C2ES undertakes in-depth policy analysis, and we facilitate dialogue among diverse stakeholders. One recent example is the role we played behind the scenes convening informal discussions among governments leading up to the Paris conference last December.
Over 15 months, we brought together senior negotiators from two dozen countries – Including Australia – for eight very candid, very in-depth sessions debating the key issues and the best options. The report we drew from these discussions and released last July laid out the essential landing zones for the agreement that was concluded five months later in Paris.
From our perspective, it’s a good agreement, one with the potential to be truly transformative. The Paris Agreement draws lessons from the past 20 years of climate diplomacy to establish a more pragmatic and more inclusive framework for global action.
It’s what we describe as a hybrid agreement; it combines bottom-up and top-down features to strike the right balance between national flexibility, to achieve broad participation, and international rigor, to ensure accountability and to promote rising ambition.
The strong, high-level political momentum that produced the Paris Agreement is continuing.
- More than 170 countries signed the agreement when it was formally opened for signature in April in New York.
- The United States and China have said they will soon go the next step and complete their domestic approval procedures.
- And there are strong signs the agreement will formally come into force as early as this year, but more likely next – much earlier than had been anticipated.
So what, specifically, does the agreement require?
- It commits all parties to make national contributions, backed up by domestic mitigation measures;
- It commits them to regularly report on their emissions and on their progress in implementing their contributions;
- And it commits them to update their contributions every five years.
These contributions are nationally determined – every country decides for itself what it will do – and they are not legally binding. But the binding procedural commitments – to regularly report, and to periodically update your contribution – will provide stronger accountability, and should work to promote rising ambition.
Rising ambition toward what? The agreement sets a number of long-term goals. It sets a temperature goal: keeping warming well below 2 degrees Celsius, and striving to limit it to 1.5. And it sets two emissions-related goals: first, to peak global greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible; and second, to achieve net zero emissions in the second half of the century.
I’ll repeat that: net zero emissions in the second half of the century.
Of course, the agreement itself can’t ensure that these goals are met. But it establishes mechanisms that will periodically call the question; that will periodically require us to consider – both in capitals and at the global level – whether our near-term actions are in line with these long-term objectives.
So what do these long-term goals imply for the future of fossil fuels?
First, they quite clearly suggest that we need to shift as rapidly as possible to lower-carbon sources of energy – which leads me, of course, to the promise of natural gas.
In the United States, we know firsthand the important role that affordable natural gas can play in reducing emissions.
- By our calculation, more than half the cut in carbon emissions from the U.S. power sector achieved over the past decade came from the substitution of natural gas for coal.
- Natural gas has risen from 19 to 33 percent of our generation mix.
- Going forward, we anticipate bigger increases in natural gas use as the U.S. works to further reduce power sector emissions.
How representative is the U.S. experience? Is it an isolated example? Or is it replicable in other major regions of the world?
The answers depend heavily on local and regional circumstances. But one thing seems clear: the case for natural gas as a bridge fuel really only holds if its increased use is accompanied by a corresponding decline in the use of higher-carbon fuels.
The International Energy Agency forecasts that, under a business-as-usual scenario, natural gas will be the fastest growing fossil fuel through 2040, with global consumption increasing by 70 percent. But the IEA also forecasts that coal use will continue to rise as well.
Here’s another thing that seems clear: The climate benefits of natural gas can be realized only if we do a much better job reducing flaring and reducing methane leakage throughout the natural gas value chain.
I know that estimates of leakage vary widely. But whatever the real levels, they are too high. And there are cost-effective measures available to bring them down. What’s standing in the way?
And here’s one more thing that seems clear: Let’s say we can ensure that rising natural gas use substitutes for, rather than supplements, coal use. And let’s say we do a fabulous job reducing flaring and leaks. That’s still not enough.
Remember, the goal is net zero emissions in the second half of the century. Natural gas is a lower-carbon fuel. It’s not a no-carbon fuel.
So if we envision producing and burning growing quantities of natural gas, we need ways to keep the resulting carbon emissions from reaching the atmosphere. Which leads me to the role of carbon capture utilization and storage – CCUS.
The IEA calculates that nearly 15 percent of the emission reduction needed by 2050 to put us on a 2-degree pathway must come from CCS.
Billions have been invested in CCS and we’re making some headway. I understand that here in Australia, the Gorgon CO2 Injection Project – which is expected to be the largest CO2 storage project in the world – is projected to come on line next year. That will be a critical milestone.
We also need to be thinking about the “U” in CCUS – utilization. Just recently we’ve heard promising developments on that front.
The Ford Motor Company announced a project to capture carbon from its manufacturing emissions. They’re going to use that carbon to make the foam put in auto seats and interiors.
And last month, Exxon Mobil announced it’s expanding its partnership with FuelCell Energy. They’re working on a technology that can capture CO2 from coal and natural gas plants and use it to power fuel cells.
Breakthroughs like that are exactly what we need if we’re ever going to come close to achieving carbon neutrality.
I‘ve talked about some of the technological challenges your industry faces in navigating its way into a low-carbon future. I want to turn now to some of the social and political challenges you face coming out of Paris.
It’s no news to you that the fossil fuel industry faces growing opposition on many fronts. I understand that last month in Newcastle, 2,000 activists managed to shut down the world’s largest coal port for a day, one of 20 coordinated actions against fossil fuel installations on six different continents.
For a large and growing activist community, the Paris Agreement sounded the death knell for the fossil fuel industry.
These activists are committed to pulling every lever they can, under the agreement or elsewhere, to realize their vision of a fossil-free future. And they don’t necessarily distinguish among fossil fuels – for them, the potential carbon benefits of natural gas are outweighed by other perceived risks.
This is not a ragtag band of protestors. It’s an increasingly sophisticated movement, with significant resources, that is getting attention on Wall Street and among policymakers.
Companies are under growing pressure to disclose – indeed, in the U.S., some are under investigation for alleged failure to disclose – and investors are under growing pressure to divest.
- The governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, drew a fair bit of notice a few months back when he warned of rising financial risks related to climate change.
- Just a couple of weeks ago, at the Exxon and Chevron shareholder meetings, resolutions calling on the companies to conduct climate-related stress tests were only narrowly voted down.
- Later this year, we’ll hear recommendations on the disclosure of climate-related financial risks from a Financial Stability Board task force chaired by Mike Bloomberg.
A recent headline in the Huffington Post showed how the issue is being portrayed to the public. Here’s how it read: “Climate Change Poses A Big Risk To Your Retirement Savings.”
Alongside the article, I noticed a link to an online petition. The message? “Tell world governments: Keep 80 percent of fossil fuels in the ground.”
My message is that these pressures will not fade away. More likely, they will continue to grow.
So, how, so far, is the industry responding? From where I sit, it’s a mixed picture.
On the one hand, I see companies investing in alternative technologies that could help them diversify.
- I mentioned Exxon’s investment in a novel fuel cell technology.
- It’s been reported that Shell is creating a separate division focused on low-carbon power.
- Total is spending a billion dollars to acquire an advanced battery manufacturer.
- Statoil is developing a utility-scale battery system to go with its offshore wind farms.
I also see some companies – some CEOs, even – signing on to statements in support of policies such as carbon pricing. At the same time – while these are exactly the kinds of investments we need – they represent a tiny fraction of these companies’ assets.?
I hear policymakers saying that when it comes down to brass tacks, and they put specific policy proposals on the table, industry support is nowhere to be found. And I hear some companies arguing that the Paris Agreement is a lot of wishful thinking; that governments won’t follow through; and that climate change poses no real risk to their business models.
So does the Paris agreement represent a turning point for the oil and gas industry? For the moment, at least, it seems to depend who you ask.
My organization is about building common ground, because we believe that’s the only way to make real progress. We worry when we see signs that the demonizing tactics of one side lead the other side to simply dig in. No one’s going to win that way.
We know there’s no solution to climate change without business. But we believe real and lasting solutions are possible only if business shows leadership, rather than fobbing the responsibility off entirely on governments. Governments, on the whole, are showing greater resolve than ever on climate change. But who are we kidding? They can’t possibly do it on their own.
There’s probably no convincing the zealots that the oil and gas industry has a legitimate role in a carbon-constrained future.
But it seems to me you need to do a better job convincing the many others who are not zealots, but who are increasingly, and quite reasonably, concerned about the genuine risks posed by climate change.
I’m not a business analyst. I can’t advise companies on how to best serve the interests of their shareholders. But in the interest of achieving consensus solutions, and avoiding prolonged gridlock, I would offer three suggestions:
First, I would urge the industry to rapidly scale up investment in low-carbon energy; in carbon capture, utilization and storage; and in other viable means of sequestering carbon.
Second, I would urge the industry to chart, and to clearly articulate, a long-term vision for itself that is compatible with climate protection.
And third, I would urge companies to come to the table, roll up their sleeves, and work with policymakers and other stakeholders to enact and implement the policies we need to facilitate a smooth low-carbon transition.
To sum up, the Paris Agreement marks a critical turn in the global climate effort. It sets ambitious goals, and it guarantees a succession of highly visible political moments when our efforts will continually be held up against those goals.
And this puts the oil and gas industry at a crossroads.
Yes, natural gas can be part of the solution. But the broader question is whether the industry will cling as long as possible to its established business model; or whether it will choose to reinvent itself – to work with others to deliver the policies, the technologies, and the investment needed to ensure a more sustainable path for itself, and for the planet.
To me, at least, the choice is clear.
Again, I appreciate the opportunity to share these views. And I thank you for listening.
After witnessing the historic signing of the Paris Agreement by 175 nations, we now need to turn our attention to fulfilling its promise.
As its nationally determined contribution to the agreement, the United States set a goal of reducing net greenhouse gas emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. In a new paper, C2ES outlines how expected and in-place policies could get us close to the goal line -- reducing emissions by as much as 22 percent. Getting the rest of the way can likely be achieved through a mix of additional policies, city and business action, and technological innovation.
First, let’s look at how we can get to a 22 percent reduction.
U.S. net emissions are already down more than 9 percent from 2005 levels due to market- and policy-related factors, including a shift in electricity generation from coal to natural gas, growth in renewable energy, level electricity demand, and improved vehicle efficiency.
The C2ES business-as-usual forecast, drawn from a number of analyses, projects an additional 5.6 percent reduction in net emissions through such policies as greenhouse gas standards for vehicles and the Clean Power Plan.
The rest of the anticipated emissions reductions is expected to come from new, higher estimates of future carbon sequestration and additional measures under development, including steps to strengthen fuel economy standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks, reduce methane emissions in the oil and gas sector, and reduce hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).
Now, how will we address the remaining gap of at least 270 million metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent?
Additional federal policies would help. For example, greenhouse gas standards could be set for major industrial sectors under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, the same section that underlies the Clean Power Plan.
Technological advances that lower the cost of emissions reduction will also undoubtedly play an important role. Over the next five to 10 years, battery storage technologies are expected to improve by a factor of 10, which would support the integration of more renewable generation. A promising design for a natural gas power plant with nearly 100 percent carbon capture will enter the demonstration phase next year and could be commercialized soon after. And agricultural advances are leading to more sustainable crops able to sequester more carbon dioxide in their root systems.
Stronger efforts by cities will also be critical to filling the gap. A growing number of cities are working to improve the energy efficiency of residential and commercial buildings, which account for for 41 percent of total U.S. energy consumption. Greater adoption of Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs, which help finance energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, could significantly reduce city energy demand. Similarly, city programs to build out infrastructure to increase the adoption rate of electric vehicles will, in-time, appreciably lower transportation-related emissions.
Companies, too, will play a key role. Twelve leading companies signed the C2ES statement calling on governments to quickly join the Paris climate pact and pledging to work with countries toward the domestic measures needed to achieve their national emissions-cutting contributions. More than 150 U.S. companies with a combined market capitalization in excess of $7 trillion joined the American Business Act on Climate Pledge – committing to reduce emissions, increase renewable power, or finance climate efforts. And the White House is calling on more companies to join the initiative.
The United States has significantly reduced its greenhouse gas emissions over the past decade. Cutting emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025 is a challenging goal. But many options remain untapped, and concerted efforts across multiple fronts can get us across the goal line.
The Center for Canadian Studies at Johns Hopkins SAIS
and the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions
The Hon. Rachel Notley leads Alberta's first New Democratic government, with a strong majority and a diverse caucus including the highest percentage of women of any government in Canada. She was sworn in as Alberta's 17th Premier on May 24, 2015.