Each week, a small group of Official Opposition MLAs get together to talk through a specific policy issue. As part of the process, a short commentary is compiled and then edited. Editorial committee members include GRANT HUNTER, Cardston-Taber-Warner; DREW BARNES, Cypress Medicine Hat; SCOTT CYR Bonnyville Cold Lake; RON ORR, Lacombe-Ponoka; MARK SMITH, Devon-Drayton Valley; RICK STRANKMAN, Drumheller-Stettler; and WES TAYLOR, Battle River Wainwright.
The world’s appetite for petroleum is voracious. The annual Statistical Review of World Energy indicates that year-by-year global oil consumption is growing by over a million barrels per day (BPD), even though 750,000+ electric cars were sold last year (globally), and 137 billion litres of biofuel were produced.
Fossil fuel consumption keeps rising because the world’s population keeps growing and developing, and because the features of modern civilization—food production, medicine, and industry—depend upon petroleum, electricity, and transport.
The starkness of this situation led Danish professor and bestselling author Bjorn Lomborg to explain that replacing fossil fuel with wind and solar is impossible. The International Energy Agency (IEA) reported that for 2015, wind turbines produced roughly one-half of 1 per cent of global energy supply, while solar produced 0.13 per cent.
The world spent $91 billion subsidizing these industries and got back less than 0.7 per cent of needed supply. In 2017, wind and solar subsidies are projected to reach $125 billion—roughly 25-30 times what Canada spends annually on foreign aid.
Quoting IEA figures, Lomberg explains that if every single country in the Paris Climate Accord keeps its emissions promises, by 2040, wind will contribute 1.88 per cent of global needs and solar about 1 per cent. The cost to achieve this goal (less than 3 per cent of the total) will be measured in trillions of dollars, and fossil fuel demand will still keep growing. The IEA says global oil demand—despite all these other efforts and subsidies—will exceed 103 million BPD by 2040, up from 92 million in 2015.
Being that individuals like Prime Minister Trudeau and other Canadian leaders (including some in Alberta) believe people should stop using fossil fuel and rely on wind and solar, they’re becoming indifferent toward, or opposed to, traditional energy development—pipelines, coal, oil sands production, and even natural gas. It’s affecting government revenues and costing jobs.
Business Vancouver Online (BIV.com) reports that 3½ months after Canada blocked (through overregulation and political interference) a proposed $36-billion liquefied natural gas (LNG) project, a partner from that abandoned project reappeared in Alaska, where a new US$43-billion China-friendly LNG development agreement was announced. Canadian governments are sending jobs elsewhere.
Some First Nations say they’re heartbroken over Canada’s cancelled energy projects, stating that their communities are losing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see people lifted from poverty.
The Toronto Sun likewise commented on the IEA’s new report, noting that through overregulation and official indifference, Canada is deliberately turning itself into a “bit player on global energy.” It also indicates (quoting the IEA) that Canada is likely walking away from up to $700 billion in job-creating international investments—an amount that exceeds Ottawa’s National Debt.
For Alberta and Canada, the hard reality is that in the midst of this vibrant global economic activity, serious government support for our participation in one of the world’s most important industries is waning and lethargic.
The Sun even points out that there are now two energy worlds: The real one, which is governed by new investment and ever-increasing global demand; and an eco-fantasy version played out in the halls of political power and at UN conferences, where bureaucrats and politicians talk incessantly about raising taxes and subsidizing wind and solar, believing they can bring a hasty end to fossil fuel usage even though the evidence says otherwise.