In a recent article in Forbes magazine, Professor Roger A Pielke Jr, who is vilified by some as being a climate change denier, but who appears to be a reputable (if controversial) and well qualified researcher suggests that energy consumption is growing at a rate that makes reducing greenhouse gas emissions by any margin at all by 2030 impossible. He makes the point, with which I agree, fully, that “Of course, climate change poses risks to our future, and aggressive mitigation and adaptation policies make good sense … [thus, he says] … getting policy making right is important.” But his key takeaway is that energy use is still uneven ~ very high, but stabilizing and even being reduced in the rich Euro-America West but growing rapidly in the developing Sino-Indian and Afro-Asian East. We are not going to be able to tell billions of Asians that they should not enjoy the benefits of e.g. refrigeration, information technology and motorized transport, all of which we take for granted, just because Greta Thunberg is upset.
The biggest single source of carbon-based greenhouse gasses is coal, which is, in Asia, the largest source of electrical power, and burning coal produces far more greenhouse gasses than does burning oil, even ‘unconventional’ oil like that in the Alberta oilsands, for the same amount of energy being produced.
It seems intuitively obvious to me that the best way to slow global climate change is to stop burning coal. But, even if it would not be politically impossible, it would be morally wrong to say, to China and India and so on, that they must forgo the benefits of the modern age just because we, in the West, burned too much coal for too many centuries. China and India and so on are not going to stop using electricity and automobiles, but we, Canada, especially with the world’s 3rd largest oil reserves, can and should …
… as good, responsible global citizens, be trying to help them burn less coal. Policies and projects which aim to keep Canadian oil in the ground are, it is quite clear, encouraging coal production and use and, therefore, making global climate change worse. They are not sane policies. That applies to the policies of the last (Trudeau) government and it applies to promises made by Justin Trudeau and Catherine Mckenna in the recent election campaign. Trudeau’s Canada is working against the global environment. The policies that Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister McKenna espouse may have worked well, politically, in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver but they make no environmental sense on a global basis … their climate crusade is doing harm to the world, not good.
Canada needs a suite of environmental policies that make scientific, economic and human sense. Taxing us when we heat our homes in Canada does not, it seems to me, make much sense on any front. Exporting Canadian gas and oil ~ to replace coal ~ seems to me like a much, much better idea. So does using Canadian oil and natural gas to heat our homes and power our trucks and cars all across Canada rather than importing it, by the tanker load, from Saudi Arabia. Additionally, as I have explained, before, Canada, mainly Ontario, is one of the (few) countries that has “decarbonized” a significant portion of its electrical generation system. (The others are Sweden and France.)
I believe that Andrew Scheer was on the right track when he said that the best way for Canada to fight global climate change ~ and we must acknowledge that it is a global issue ~ is to use and export (relatively) cleaner (and more ethical) Canadian oil and natural gas and Canadian nuclear technology … here at home and overseas, especially in Asia. But he and the Conservative Party failed to (refused to?) make their collection of polices ~ the energy corridor, use of technology, etc ~ into a comprehensive, coherent whole.
I know that the energy corridor idea is toxic in Québec, where former Montreal mayor (and Liberal cabinet minister) Denis Coderre demanded a payoff for allowing the Energy East pipeline to be built and the, when Trans Canada Pipelines wouldn’t pay up he persuaded Prime Minister Trudeau to change the regulations in order to sabotage the entire project. I also know that a pipeline expansion to Greater Vancouver is unpopular there, but both projects are important on the national level and a Canadian government that actually cares about climate change may have to force pipelines through recalcitrant provinces ~ even though it may cause long term damage to the electoral prospects of the Party that does act in Canada’s interests (as did the hanging of Louis Riel in 1885). But the fact that something is difficult should not make it impossible … especially not when it is in the national interest.
Nuclear power is another issue which causes unreasoned and irrational fear amongst too many Canadians. But nuclear power, and, especially, Canadian nuclear technology might be a HUGE key to taming climate change.
Clean coal is, still, an oxymoron. Until it’s not, then electrical cars that are powered by coal-fired electrical plants are part of the problem, not part of the solution. For the foreseeable future, the world needs oil and gas and Canadian oil and gas is cleaner and more ethical than any other of the world’s major oil-producing nations. Keeping it locked in the ground is bad for Canada and bad for the world … but it’s good for the USA and Saudi Arabia. I suspect that Justin Trudeau, Chrystia Freeland, Catherine McKenna and Gerald Butts all know that; but I guess they don’t care because their paymasters ~ the Rockefeller Foundation and so on ~ have persuaded them that Canada and global climate change are less important than American and Arabian oil revenues.
We had an election campaign in which some people talked a lot about climate change but no one talked much about what Canada can do to actually help fight against it. If we ever have a serious conversation about the environment and climate change it must include getting Canadian oil, gas and nuclear energy to the world.