Canada’s en­viro gong-show op­poses re­al­ity

Toronto Sun - - COMMENT - LORNE GUNTER lgunter@post­media.com

There are two en­ergy worlds on dis­play this week. There is the real one; the one full of pro­duc­tion es­ti­mates and de­mand pro­jec­tions, in­vest­ment re­ports and terms like “tight oil” and “up­stream cost de­clines.”

Then there is the un­real one play­ing out in Bonn, Ger­many at the United Na­tions’ an­nual cli­mate con­fer­ence. It’s full of high-blown the­o­ries and mag­i­cal so­lu­tions to over-hyped prob­lems, plus calls for higher taxes and greater reg­u­la­tion backed by “green” politi­cians and bu­reau­crats.

And guess which en­ergy world Canada is far more ac­tive in?

That’s right, the eco-fan­tasy world in which par­tic­i­pants be­lieve if they just tax us all enough and spend enough money on al­ter­nate-en­ergy sub­si­dies they can mag­i­cally trans­form our economies into equally pros­per­ous ones in which none of us use car­bon-based fu­els and we all have jobs as smart­phone app de­sign­ers, pour-over cof­fee artists or bike-re­pair techs.

Af­ter three years of bleak news in the real en­ergy world, some good news ac­tu­ally emerged last week. The in­de­pen­dent In­ter­na­tional En­ergy Agency (IEA) re­leased its as­sess­ment of the state of en­ergy use and pro­duc­tion.

Be­tween now and 2040, en­ergy de­mand around the world will in­crease by nearly a third — or roughly by the amount of en­ergy cur­rently be­ing con­sumed by China and In­dia, the world’s largest and fourth-largest en­ergy con­sumers, re­spec­tively.

And the good news for the oil and gas sec­tor is that oil and nat­u­ral gas will both con­tinue to sup­ply large por­tions of the in­creas­ing de­mand, even if de­mand for “green” en­er­gies and elec­tric ve­hi­cles grows sub­stan­tially.

Also, prices should, at the very least, sta­bi­lize.

The IEA es­ti­mates the worstcase sce­nario over the next 20 years will be oil at $50US to $70US, even if e-cars, wind and so­lar take off. Un­der the best-case, oil should climb to be­tween $80US and $110US.

China in par­tic­u­lar is likely to see a huge jump in its de­mand, per­haps 40 per cent above it’s cur­rent 15.5 mil­lion bar­rels per day.

But the good news does not trickle down to Canada.

Ac­cord­ing to the IEA, be­cause of self-im­posed “green” poli­cies by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, and by the provin­cial govern­ments of On­tario, Al­berta and Bri­tish Columbia, while “Canada is well placed to ex­port oil to China this is de­pen­dent on the con­struc­tion of ad­di­tional ex­port ca­pac­ity to bring in­land pro­duc­tion to the Pa­cific coast.”

And the IEA es­ti­mates the po­lit­i­cal cli­mate in Canada could well pre­vent the con­struc­tion of that ca­pac­ity.

We have the oil. We can ex­tract it. And the pro­duc­tion of our oil­sands could cre­ate tens of thou­sands of well-pay­ing jobs across the coun­try in en­gi­neer­ing, man­u­fac­tur­ing, fi­nance, trans­porta­tion and ser­vice.

But in­stead, Canada will be stuck on the side­lines due largely to “self-re­straint and rules.”

Our pro­duc­tion could rise to 6.2 mil­lion bar­rels per day from 4.5 mil­lion if we stopped be­ing the world’s Cli­mate Boy Scout. But the IEA be­lieves that is so un­likely that it has low­ered its es­ti­mate of the amount of new in­vest­ment we can ex­pect in our oil and gas sec­tor from $1.7 tril­lion to just $1.0 tril­lion.

That’s $700 bil­lion of re­al­world losses for real-world fam­i­lies.

Then there is the en­viro gong-show in Bonn, Ger­many.

There, in­ter­na­tional bu­reau­crats, “green” politi­cians and eco-ac­tivists — nearly 25,000 of them — have gath­ered in fos­sil-fuel heated meet­ing halls and elab­o­rate tents to guz­zle train­loads of cham­pagne and down planeloads of shrimp flown in fresh from halfway around the world, all while re­as­sur­ing one an­other their hot-air fes­ti­val is sav­ing the planet.

These an­nual gab-a-thons never pro­duce any­thing but reams of pa­per full of mean­ing­less prom­ises. Maybe that’s why the Trudeau, Wynne and Not­ley govern­ments are so good at them.

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