Real Planet Guardians don’t “Regret” a Green Transition

Canadians should be comparing ourselves to the best of what our Canada-of-the -future could be, rather than being content just above the worst possible outcome. And comparing ourselves to other nations, what they have or have not done, is irrelevant so long as we know that we are doing our personal best, with no regrets. Who can ask for more than our best? Having said that, it isn’t a bad thing to do a spot check with our neighbours to see what is what.  

4 things going on in the USA

  • The USA is now ending their corporate welfare in fossil fuel subsidies of $40 Billion per year.
  • The USA is back into the Paris Accord and taking steps to lower their emissions to net zero by 2050, by making definitive plans that will get the job done. 
  • The USA is offering hope by putting those plans into action. First. by immediately ending the KXL pipeline, and then rapidly building out renewable energy infrastructure and clean power generation projects.
  • The USA is already a far less polluter per person than Canada.

4 related things in Canada. 

  • Canada was promised an end to our billions of dollars per year in fossil fuel tax breaks and subsidies. Justin Trudeau has since entrenched them for the next decade, which alternating Liberal and Conservative governments have given.
  • Canada promised that we will meet our commitment to the Paris Accord. One of the Paris Accord requirements is to strengthen our goals, which we have ignored. Canada is using weak GHG emission reduction targets set by the Harper era, and inaction by Conservative and Liberal governance has us with no current plans to reach that low target. Talk of being carbon neutral by 2050 is a platitude without a plan by any of the big three parties. The 20-point Green Party plan, called Mission: Possible, is viable to reach the goal; but, it is largely being ignored.
  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeaus has spoken environmental action platitudes while actively promoting expansion of carbon polluting fuels. He declared he regrets the USA position to end the KXL pipeline, but will respect it. The Conservatives and NDP say he didn’t try hard enough to get it built. Any leaders that “regret” a shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy is not a protector of the environment at heart. His actions at home confirm what his heart is centred upon. Trudeau bought and is committed to build the TMX pipeline in Canada. When all three traditional parties are in agreement and calling the shots, it won’t get us anywhere close to fulfilling our obligations to green our economy.
  • Canadians are amongst the worse polluters per person on the planet, with 0.5% of the people making 1.5% of all pollution. Our country has significantly increased our GHG emissions in an era that we were supposed to have been serious about reductions.

 

Let’s put things into perspective. 

For those who think the cancellation of KXL is a huge victory for environmental protections, and for those who think ending the KXL is a huge blow to Canadian oil producers – I encourage you to reflect upon how neither position is accurate. 

Many existing pipelines that ship Albertan oil south of the border are completing upgrades to increase capacity beyond our current 4 billion barrels of oil per day. Existing Alberta to Texas rail shipments of oil can be increased in lieu of the KXL pipeline. We will further increase exports when the TMX pipeline to the BC coast is completed. Many economists say that Canada will never get royalties sufficient to pay the cost incurred by building TMX, and that existing export capacity is sufficient until oil demand peaks and contracts. We also can’t meet our environmental goals without leaving most of our oil in the ground.

It isn’t clear at what point our government leadership will realize the economic and environmental cases for staying in the oil pits are based upon corporate greed rather than societal need. That awakening will only be identified when actions speak louder than platitudes of caring; but, for both financial and ecological reasons, a transition from oil & gas can’t be too soon. We can’t meet climate acton goals with the status quo. Definitely not with further oil intensification. Most definitely not with leaders who feel “regret” for those others taking first steps to get us off our current trajectory of planetary disaster.

 

The International Energy Association (IEA) has determined that we need $48 trillion invested into energy solutions just to continue meeting current energy demands through to 2035. That is over $3 trillion annually. Many governments are contributing taxpayer funds into these investments, with the lion’s share directed into the oil and gas industries. Canada’s current position is clearly aligned with that crowd. Imagine what we could accomplish in long term benefits if those funds were a true investment – in renewable energy technologies – rather than just burning them up into CO2.

Conservatives, Liberals and NDP are all cheering loud enough for some of the worst options, and sitting idly by for many others. For another example beyond KXL and TMX, all three tradition federal parties are supporting or sitting by, while the NDP in BC have seized Indigenous lands to build the Site-C dam with taxpayers’ money. This project will primarily make electricity to power an expanded liquefied natural gas fracking export industry. The dam was originally budgeted at under $4 Billion, and is fast approaching triple that amount. The environmental cost and violations to Indigenous sovereignty are being largely ignored in the usual way by those elected to represent our interests. Only the Green Party in British Columbia was against this fracking expansion and the Site-C dam.

Canada needs to stop putting the corporate owners of fossil fuels ahead of our country’s financial and environmental future. Such action will leave us with stranded assets, make us financial losers in the long term, and will have us be accomplice assailants  who strangle the life out of humanity and many of earth’s ecosystems.On a positive note, there are many current technologies for renewable energy projects to store excess generated energy and provide that power when not actively generating it. Such facilities are being built around the world, including Texas, California, Australia and Saudi Arabia. These systems are cost competitive, with many new projects providing power around 4 cents/Kwh. While all large scale energy projects take a lot of carbon to build, the “fuel” to run solar and wind facilities is free – and are carbon negative after some years of operation. Gas and coal fired power plants never stop using costly fuel and producing GHG gases, so will never be carbon neutral or negative. Nuclear reactors (if considered green energy) are very time consuming and labour intensive projects to build, which aren’t able to transition us off fossil fuels as quickly as we need. These cost effective renewable energy generation projects with power storage capacity will undoubtedly spur others to get on board. 

Without much governmental leadership, Canada had 275,000 jobs in the renewable energy sector in 2018, overtaking the number of jobs in all of the Canadian fossil fuel industry combined. It is set to double that by 2030. This shift to green energy jobs is happening even faster in many other countries in the world, especially those in the European community, that are taking advantage of the renewable energy boom in economic and environmental terms. Energy conservation technologies will help reduce energy demand, allowing us to meet our demands with renewables more quickly. Canada should be investing in such research and building infrastructure, to be world leaders rather than followers and missing out on the benefits.

We need to envision the world we want to see in the future. For me, it is an economy based on high-tech green energy jobs that have our society thrive longterm, without destroying the planet we live upon. It will be more socially just, will end extreme poverty and strengthen our health care. It will have tuition free education for university, college, and the trades, which will include retraining of oil and gas workers to be fully employed in the renewable energy sectors. It will require us to support those into governance that will speak up and influence things for the better. 

What does the best Canada-of-the-future look like to you? Is Canada on the pathway to make that happen? 

If your vision is similar to mine – JOIN with me. Let’s make our Canada become its best, together.