Think globally, act locally

Rita Trichur is a senior business writer and columnist at the Globe and Mail. She has written an interesting opinion piece for the Globe and Mail about Canada, India and energy.

Ms Trichur reminds us that despite all the hoopla about Prime Minister Trudeau playing ‘Mr Dressup‘ in India on February 2018, there was a substantive meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and she quotes Prime Minister Modi as saying, in Hindi, that ““Canada is [an] energy superpower and can meet our growing energy needs … [and] … Today, we have decided to expand our energy dialogue and design the future of our energy partnership.”” That’s good news, right? After all, India is a fast-growing country that relies too heavily on coal to produce power so Canada can sell energy to India and make a good profit for Canadian companies and also, simultaneously, help fight against global warming … right?

But, Rita Trichur says “More than a year-and-a-half later, Mr. Trudeau’s government has made scant progress in expanding Canada’s energy ties with the South Asian country. With Canadians set to vote in a general election in October, the next government has a golden opportunity to strengthen that energy partnership.

It begs a question: why hasn’t Canada made any progress?

The obvious answers are that:

  • Pipelines are stalled as the Trudeau government fails, again and again, to get anything done; and
  • India has not, yet, made itself a key player in the energy market.

There’s an imperative to act,” Ms Trichur writes, “because the two countries have complementary needs. Canada needs supplementary buyers of oil, while India is seeking more stable (and, yes, scrupulous) sellers, especially now that Saudi Arabia and Iran are embroiled in yet another conflict … [and] … gathering economic headwinds in Canada and India underscore why neither country can afford the status quo. Canada’s oil sands are stuck in the doldrums because of depressed prices for heavy crude, diminished capital investment and delayed (and deceased) pipeline projects. India covets energy security and more influence over global commodity trading – especially now that rival China is starting to position the yuan as a petro-currency to challenge the U.S. dollar’s dominance in the oil trade.

Rota Trichur gives a lengthy and interesting explanation of how India can and should invest in the Canadian energy sector and she notes that “This is a no-brainer for Ottawa. India is the world’s No. 3 importer of crude oil behind China and the United States. Last year, it purchased oil worth US$114.5-billion, roughly 9.7 per cent of the world’s total crude imports, according to World’s Top Exports. India’s top five suppliers are Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates … [and] … Canada, meanwhile, is the world’s No. 4 exporter of crude oil (behind Saudi Arabia, Russia and Iraq) but doesn’t even rank among India’s top 15 suppliers. It’s a wasted opportunity for both countries.

But the Trudeau regime is conflicted. It seems pretty clear to me that, despite having bought the Trans-Mountain pipeline, Justin Trudeau and Gerald Butts are against getting Alberta’s oil to world markets. That’s not really surprising. Québec, the Liberals’ firm political base, is opposed to pipelines unless it gets a huge payoff, and the Trudeau Liberals coasted to power, in large measure, on three promises: marijuana (the only promise they kept), electoral reform, and fighting global warming differently from the Conservatives who support both oil and pipelines. That latter promise included an implicit commitment to keep Alberta’s oil in the ground.

Think-Globally-Act-LocallyThe problem with the climate change children’s crusade, as led by Justin Trudeau, Cathrine McKenna and Gerald Butts, is that it ignores the long-standing environmental diktat to think globally and act locally. Instead, the Trudeau Liberals think locally, only. They are focused on how to reduce Canada’s carbon emissions instead of thinking about how Canada can use its resources and technology to reduce global emissions. This is a terribly parochial (reelection centred) point of view and it is strategically silly.

Although the figures vary by source most people agree that this is, roughly, how we spew greenhouse gasses (GHG) into the atmosphere:

ghg_sector

Energy used to heat and cool our home, recharge our new electric cars and power the information age and to build our cars and refrigerators and washing machines is the biggest source of GHG (26 (energy supply) + 8 (buildings) + 19.5 (industry) = 53.5% of all GHGs). In China and India, the major fuel source is coal. That can and should be replaced by natural gas which Canada has and can export … if we have pipelines and LNG ports. It would be even better to replace coal with nuclear energy … another field in which Canada excels.

If we are really intent on helping to fight global warming, and it is a global issue, then we have to think globally, not just about Canada’s emissions:

ec-com1374-en-fig-es2

 We must consider that Canadian petroleum and nuclear technology can reduce China’s emissions and India’s, too. We need to get Canadian technology, especially nuclear technology, and Canadian oil and natural gas to world markets in order to help reduce global GHG emissions. A slight increase in Canadian GHG emissions is acceptable if we help India and China make large decreases in theirs.

We have to think globally and we have to think BIG. Global energy demand is growing. It is not morally acceptable to ask Africa, China and India to stop providing electricity and consumer goods to their people. I’m pretty sure that Greta Thunberg and all her many followers don’t want to send two billion people back to shorter lives in abject poverty and misery, at least I hope they don’t. But the business of dragging 2 billion people out of poverty and into the working class was accomplished, largely, by adding energy to the mix. More is needed. The world must find new and better ways to meet the ever-growing demand.

Little Singapore, for example, is planning to team with Australia to build the world’s largest-ever solar farm in a desert in Australia’s Northern Territory and then deliver electricity to Singapore by undersea high-voltage direct-current cable:

Singapore doesn’t want to replace all its Liquid Natural Gas plants with solar, it just wants to diversify its sources in order to have greater energy security and some capacity for continued growth. There is room in Africa and Asia and all across Canada, too, for both Canadian petroleum products and for Canadian nuclear energy, especially the new small, modular reactors.

Before we can think globally and then act locally in a sensible way, we have to stop listening to the anti-pipeline and anti-nuclear doomsayers like Elizabeth May, Catherine McKenna, Jagmeet Sing and Justin Trudeau and start thinking, as Andrew Scheer is, about how to use (local) Canadian technology and resources to address global GHG emission levels.

 

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