Toronto Star

Curtailing our energy production harms environmen­t

- AL DUERR CONTRIBUTO­R

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.

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