Taking control of its destiny
Dear Editor, Atlantic Canada is at a crossroads. Should it hope the era of oil dominance will continue or become a leader in the transition to a low carbon future?
Rather than allow powerful outside forces to direct and neglect the region, could Atlantic Canadians fashion their destiny more?
The proposed Energy East oil pipeline and Muskrat Falls hydro dam are the region’s biggest megaprojects. They bet the carbon era will persist for decades.
What if the world and Ottawa get serious about climate change and refuse to buy what they’re selling?
They could become white elephants with taxpayers picking up the tab.
The production of oil and natural gas, mainly in Alberta, is Canada’s largest source of greenhouse gases (GHGs), exceeding GHGs from all the vehicles driven in Canada.
Building the Energy East line will spur expansion of Alberta’s Sands, Canada’s fastest growing source of emissions. If completed, Energy East will be the second most capacious oil pipeline in North America. It would have to go full bore with mainly Alberta bitumen for 30 years to pay off building costs.
Ottawa will soon realize Canada can’t cut emissions by 80 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050, as it and the other G8 countries pledged, if it doesn’t cap and then phase out Alberta’s bitumen production.
Aren’t new, large hydro dams good alternatives? A study published in Bioscience last month by Bridget Deemer says no. Hydro dams that flood large areas and have fluctuating water levels produce much more GHGs than previously thought.
Energy East and Muskrat Falls are hugely expensive.
If GHG-rich megaprojects are a dead end, is there an alternative?