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In Davos, stage is set for potential Redford-Gore confrontation on oil sands

Former U.S. vice-president Al Gore and Alberta Premier Alison Redford could meet – and perhaps spar over the oil sands and climate change – as they both attend the same panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos later this week.

DEBORAH BAIC AND MARK BLINCH/THE GLOBE AND MAIL/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Former U.S. vice-president Al Gore and Alberta Premier Alison Redford could meet – and perhaps spar over the oil sands and climate change – as they both attend the same panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos later this week.

Ms. Redford has already arrived in Switzerland, and spoke to reporters by phone on Monday, noting she will be a special guest during one of the panel discussions at the international forum where Mr. Gore is a speaker.

Over the past decade, Mr. Gore has become the flag-bearer for the international push to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In that role, he has frequently taken aim at Alberta oil-sands production for its energy intensiveness, saying that bitumen production threatens human civilization, and that Canada's "resource curse" has led to "the reckless spewing of pollution into the Earth's atmosphere as if it's an open sewer."

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Ms. Redford said Monday she doesn't care who is saying it, "we can't have people out there spreading myths."

If she gets the chance to speak to Mr. Gore, she said "I will do what I always do, which is to talk about Alberta's record, and to give him the facts, and to suggest that as he draws conclusions which are erroneous with respect to the oil sands."

Greenhouse-gas emissions from the oil sands are set to rise along with production – "to meet a growing global demand for energy," according to the province. But Alberta has frequently argued it doesn't get fair credit for its nascent climate-change programs, including a mandatory reduction scheme for large emitters, in which industrial players unable to meet their emission targets must pay $15 per ton into a clean-energy technology fund, or buy offsets.

Ms. Redford said the panel is focused on future climate regulatory mechanisms and their impact on business. The panel members include Mr. Gore, Connie Hedegaard, the EU Commissioner for Climate Action and business leaders from China, Brazil, India and France.

Neala Barton, a spokeswoman for the Premier, said given the format of the panel discussion, it's still unclear whether Ms. Redford will have the chance to debate Mr. Gore.

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