Canada’s energy strategy defies stark global realities

Western leaders are acting in ways that make your cringe: It's like watching an out-of-control teen at their first party

Terry EtamPeople have been asking for my thoughts on the recently announced federal climate plan. I shrug. I ask them what their thoughts are on the Iowa State Fair Hog Calling Regulations. I’m indifferent.

I know I should care, but what’s the point?

The feds throw something at us; we have to work with it. We can’t “assume a leadership role” because they don’t want hydrocarbon players in the room. The hydrocarbon industry is working flat out on carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS), hydrogen, renewable natural gas (RNG), you name it, but that’s all beside the point when the industry must be decimated for the greater good.

The best way to explain is with these quotes:

  • “We will be there to support, as the world moves beyond Russian oil and indeed, beyond fossil fuels, to have more renewables in our mix.” – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Europe, National Post, March 2022
  • “Avoiding catastrophic climate change requires winding down production of oil and gas over the next decade.” – Keith Brooks, Environmental Defence, March 2022
  • “With time running out and with the global shift to a low-carbon economy turning into a sprint, Canadians have been calling for increased climate ambition.” – Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, press release, April 2021
  • “The cost of renewables and battery storage has plummeted, we don’t need gas anymore as a bridge fuel. …” – Tzeporah Berman, February 2021
  • “Sri Lanka plunges into 10-hour daily power cut as fuel crisis worsens.” – The Hindu, March 2022
  • “Germany and Austria take step towards gas rationing.” – BBC, March 2022
  • “No matter what happens in Ukraine, this winter is not an aberration. By late summer of 2021, it was already evident that Europe was facing a looming energy crisis with gas storage levels unusually low. As winter set in, prices predictably soared to record levels, reaching such heights late last year that many industrial firms shut down production.” – “Don’t blame Putin for Europe’s energy crisis,” Foreign Policy, February 2022
  • “I hope you will hear me say that please, take advantage of the leases that you have, hire workers, get your rig count up.” – U.S. Energy secretary Jennifer Granholm, December 2021
  • “European Investment Bank and GIZ (a German federal government agency) renew partnership to boost climate action and sustainable infrastructure in developing countries and emerging economies.” – Press release, March 2022

Haha. Train kept a-rollin’. Colonize until you drop! Europe is here to save you!

Here’s some money to install a genuine Euro-style energy system complete with intermittent power and eventual fuel shortages.

Hey Africa, where would you like your new 50-square-km solar farm? How about right over there. What’s that? You want a natural gas pipeline? What? An oil one as well?

Oh dear. Sorry, but we simply can’t allow that to happen. And sorry about scooping up all that LNG off the global market but, you know, if we run out of fuel who will make all these important energy transition decisions for you?

Western leaders are acting on the energy file in ways that can only make you cringe: it’s like watching an out-of-control teen at their first boozy party.

The hydrocarbon industry works very hard and risks its own money to provide fuel for the world. We see people in the news from all over the world, desperate for natural gas or diesel or heating oil or gasoline. We look at our reserves reports and calculate quickly how many houses would heat, delivery trucks it would fuel or how much fertilizer it would be it could produce.

Then we flip on the news and listen to wealthy energy illiterates from wealthy urban centres explain to the masses that what they really need to worry about might happen if the world warms up a few degrees in 30 years.

Energy efficiency in buildings is a good idea. Beyond that, all I hear is dogs barking.

Two pillars of the new climate strategy illustrate this. First is the utterly stupid plan to somehow eradicate internal combustion engines by 2035 in favour of electric vehicles.

The mineral supply isn’t enough to make this happen globally within any reasonable timeframe.

But let’s say all new vehicle sales in Canada by 2035 are EVs. That would mean we’re hogging the scarce resources, and the rest of the world will be on its own growth trajectory without any scarce materials, so Canada’s gesture will be utterly meaningless.

And that 2035 EV dominance isn’t going to happen anyway. We are not equipped to deal with the electrical load of all-EV parking lots.

The second pillar relates to Canada’s energy future. Recently, Trudeau and Wilkinson made the diplomatic tour to show that Canada will do its part to alleviate the global fuel shortage. Wilkinson pledged that Canada would contribute 300,000 more barrels per day of oil, though, as Enbridge pointed out, we can’t really send it anywhere except to the U.S.

What the world arguably needs, even more, is increased natural gas supplies. Unfortunately, federal support for LNG has been lukewarm at best: a decade after dozens of LNG projects were proposed for our coasts, only a few remain alive.

The world needs more hydrocarbons to replace Russia’s considerable oil and gas exports now and into the future, right?

Trudeau can’t spell his agenda out any more clearly for you: Get lost. We’re not going to help. Canada is, using the government’s words, “sending a clear regulatory signal now” to discourage further investments in oil and gas assets.

That categorically includes natural gas infrastructure such as LNG.

This stance puts the federal government at odds with the very segment of the population it has placed nearest to its bureaucratic heart – First Nations.

Resource development, particularly natural gas and mining, is turning out to be a perfect vehicle for meaningful First Nations engagement.

The federal government is at odds with almost every region of Canada, save urban power centres, and it’s at odds with First Nations’ dreams of resource development participation. Despite the singular UN/European focus, the government is also at odds with every country signalling that it needs more hydrocarbons for years to come.

We’re going to hamstring our population rather than maximizing our natural resource sector.

The world is running out of fuel. It’s not temporary. You can decide if the risk is more consequential to humanity than the risk found in questionable computer-modelled predictions of 2050 weather.

Our leadership isn’t paying attention to energy reality, in part because our reliable hydrocarbon sector will bail it out regardless of what the government does until the burden becomes too great and it implodes.

Terry Etam is a columnist with the BOE Report, a leading energy industry newsletter based in Calgary. He is the author of The End of Fossil Fuel Insanity. This column was supplied by the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.

Terry Etam is a Troy Media Thought Leader. For interview requests, click here.


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