Tak­ing con­trol of its des­tiny

The Southern Gazette - - EDITORIAL -

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?

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