Curtailing our energy production harms environment
In July, the federal government announced it was requesting input from Canadians on how to ensure a “just transition” of the oil and gas industry. There is an underlying premise that reducing Canadian oil and gas production is good for the global environment; this is categorically wrong.
The world needs real action on climate change, not just lofty aspirations. For decades, Canada has been implementing a “just transition” from high emission to lower emission oil and gas production. Transitioning to a more sustainable future will take time and considerable cost. Safeguarding energy reliability and affordability will be critical to maintaining public support for the energy transition.
Demand for energy and the cost of food supply is increasing, and the world will continue to rely on fossil fuels during the transition. Canada should be garnering support from all producing countries for a “just transition” in how fossil fuel production is managed, while encouraging the adoption and enforcement of Canada’s best-inclass policy and regulatory standards.
Recent examples demonstrate that whenever Canadian production or exports are curtailed — the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline, delays to Trans Mountain and Line 3 — other countries fill the void. Highly regulated Canadian energy resources are being replaced by supplies from countries with limited regulatory oversight and questionable environmental records. U.S. President Joe Biden suggests tightening the taps on American production while concurrently asking OPEC to increase production. With the transition from fossil fuels to renewables taking longer than anticipated, the global environmental question needs to focus on who should be the suppliers of choice for the world’s fossil fuels. Simple environmental offshoring is an unacceptable and dangerous global climate strategy, however good the optics of a “win” might be to domestic audiences.
Independent international rating agencies have consistently confirmed that Canada has one of the strongest regulatory regimes in the world. For example, no other jurisdiction in the world comes close to Canada on methane policy, regulation and implementation. While we all hope for a future transition to more renewables, we need to ask which countries should be the suppliers of choice during that transition. Not having Canada as a supplier of choice would result in a net deterioration in global emission management and mitigation, negatively impacting the exact global environmental sustainability outcomes we all strive to improve.
Canada needs to stop apologizing and focus on the facts. It was unacceptable, diplomatically and environmentally, that Canada was not asked to participate in the joint U.S./EU methane pact announcement. Canada’s methane commitments already far exceed those proposed by the pact. Canada must stand tall at COP26 and assertively challenge all producing countries to emulate Canada’s “just transition” by enacting and enforcing similar strict production and downstream methane emission regulations.
If Canada can do it despite our challenging production environment, so can other producing countries. Rather than planning to vacate the international oil and gas market, we need to aggressive promote proven Canadian leadership in methane and other carbon reduction technologies.
Al Duerr was the mayor of Calgary. He now provides equipment and services to the oil and gas industry as CEO of General Magnetic International Inc. and as a partner in Carbon Connect International.