What I don’t understand is why Albertans are subsidizing the tarsands/oilsands at all, much less with billions and billions of dollars. (j) Even “internal studies by a group of analysts within Shell known as the ‘scenarios’ team had concluded that global demand for oil might peak in as little as a decade—essentially tomorrow in an industry that plans in quarter-century increments”, so Shell is transitioning to the renewable economy. (b) And, to quote Geoff Dembicki’s article “Alberta can transition from oil and gas and have a strong economy” so why don’t Albertans transition to a low-carbon economy; why don’t they let the oil gas business decline. (j)
Some reasons for the governments/Albertans to subsidize/promote the oil/gas industry may appear to be obvious; they want the jobs and the money. But are they really gaining or losing their future (and ours).
Instead of putting the money of Canadians (from the federal and Alberta governments) into the future, the renewable industry, politicians are putting billions of Canadians dollars into the dinosaur, oil and gas industries. (i) Why? Some reasons may be (not in order of priority):
1. Politicians want to protect jobs. Alberta has 140,000 people employed in the oil and gas industry. That is a lot of people. But, ‘thousands of workers in the oil industry have already been displaced as industry moves to automate away their jobs. After the oil price crash in 2014, companies made job-eliminating ‘efficiencies’ a top priority — a trend they have assured their shareholders will continue’. (a)(b)(g)(h) Whereas the renewable is growing in employment.
There will also be a large number of baby boomers in the oil and gas industry retiring. So, why not train the younger generation in the renewable industry and leave the remaining middle-aged people in the oil and gas industry to continue working while the oil and gas industry transitions downward? No one loses their job.
Even a big oil and gas corporation like Shell says: “We know that the tarsands/oilsands will have to end, or at the very least, go into a decline, at some point. The only question is whether it will be in two or three decades, whether they will be a manageable transition downward or whether it will be a deep dive due to changing…… or other factors”. So, if you know this industry will go downhill but the renewable industry will go uphill, why would you invest in the dinosaur industry instead of the new economy? Where’s the logic?”
So, are the politicians backing the oil and gas industries on a false premise?
UN general secretary Sharan Burrow said that there are “no jobs on a dead planet”. “But then dead people, on a dead planet, don’t need to work.” (c)
2. By throwing billions of dollars to the oil and gas industries, the politicians get a lot of photo-ops and may look, to some Canadians, like they are actually doing something positive — they’re not; it’s a con.
3. The oil and gas companies are a few, large companies who, I suspect, put large amounts of money into the pockets of politicians, and provide lucrative after-politics jobs. I believe the renewable sector is many, but smaller, companies, less able or willing to provide the same “service”.
4. NAFTA. I do not think Canada can impede the oil and gas industries under NAFTA or NAFTA 2.0 but the federal and Albertan governments also do not have to support it with subsidies.
5. Didn’t Trudeau say that Canada would become a leader in the renewable sector? Did Washington say No, the U.S. would be the leader? Will the US/Chinese companies control the renewable sector in Canada?
6. The politicians and their one-percenter friends just want large numbers of people to die? After all, with the increasing use of robots, what do they need the normal people for? Better to get rid of them before they cause problems.
7. Is it a distraction from the fact that they have no other plan or vision. Although creating a plan to support the low-carbon economy (other than a few breadcrumbs) is, maybe, too obvious for self-serving politicians
8. The oil and gas industries, some making record profits (c), don’t have enough money and must beg from Canadians.
9. This is a plan by the politicians to raise the GDP so the deficit looks smaller. Putting out forest fires, rebuilding/repairs after fires/floods/high winds, funeral services from heat waves/pollution, etc. all add to the GDP.
10. They just lack the backbone to take on the oil and gas companies.
11. The politicians are in a hurry to drill as many wells as possible because they know that fossil fuel usage is going the way of the dodo bird. But why do it for next to nothing or less than nothing? I have to assume it’s for one of the reasons above or any equally obnoxious reason that I haven’t thought of.
12. The oil and gas industry/banks have major investments in the tarsands/oilsands and they want to squeeze every penny out of that investment, regardless of the cost to regular Canadians. Kevin Taft believes that “’global warming is a death sentence for the fossil fuel industry.’ To delay that sentence, Taft argues that the industry has spent untold millions to capture key democratic institutions including political parties, governments, regulators and universities “. (l)
13. Maybe Albertans like the idea of ending up with billions and billions of dollars of orphan well liabilities, along with polluted water, soil and air.
14. Does Alberta want to be a loser province? When the oil and gas industry declines, which are inevitable, will Alberta have a diversified economy to rely on and will they have missed the new economy? They have, I think, a perfect opportunity to transition to the new economy and they are throwing it away; an opportunity they may never get again. But Kenny, with the support of Albertans and the federal government, is throwing billions of dollars at the tarsands/oilsands while putting road blocks in the way of the new economy.
“British Columbians have seen first-hand the benefits climate leadership brings: international recognition, new clean technology jobs, investment in clean energy and technology, a low-carbon competitive advantage and a healthier environment.
Clean technology companies thrive when faced with the challenge of developing a sustainable business that cuts carbon pollution. Lessons and technology learned at home can then be exported at a profit, in a growing cleantech market now valued at an estimated $2 trillion.
As Achim Steiner, executive director of the UN Environment Programme said in a CBC interview earlier this year, ‘the future markets, the technologies, the energy systems will be low-carbon….Whether you’re building the next pipeline or not…the economy of Canada will not be centred around a fossil-fuel based extractive economy.”’ (d)
But, British Columbia has since taken a major step backward by approving, and subsidizing with billions of dollars, significant carbon emission LNG plants. (e)(f) And, of course, there will not be any future markets if we are all dead.
I’m sure there are some Albertans who want the tarsands/oilsands to transition to the renewable sector. But we rarely hear from them. I recently read about a few groups supporting the transition to the new economy – Student March for Climate, Climate Justice Edmonton (CJE) and Beaver Hills Warriors (m); plus, Iron and Earth, Energy Futures Lab, Oil Change International (j). I applaud these groups for caring about today (multiple fires burning, pollution, flooding, heat waves, etc.) and the (near) future when things will get worse. Usually, all we hear from is people like the ‘convoy’ group with their big trucks, burning lots of oil/gas, travelling across Canada, giving the people of Canada and the world the proverbial finger. (k) Basically, they are saying that they don’t give a damn if the people of Canada/the world suffer and die, as long as Albertans get to keep pumping oil. Amazingly, they don’t seem to understand, or care, that suffering and death will also happen to Albertans.
The premiers of Alberta like to paint the picture of Alberta vs British Columbia but this isn’t true; its Alberta vs the world.
As much as possible, I’ve decided not to buy products from Alberta. It just doesn’t make sense to support people who want to make me and the rest of the world, suffer and die. I have already eliminated Alberta food products because of my concern that they have been grown/fed/on toxic soil/grass. I was looking for a Canadian shampoo and came across one from Alberta but I wouldn’t buy it, and so on. However, I may make an exception if I find the product is from the new economy.
Some people say that other countries might not meet their Paris Agreement commitment so why should we. Because, we have a responsibility to ourselves and the rest of the world to meet our commitment, to do our part, we gave our word and it reflects on our reputation. And if we do our part then we are in a position to encourage others, or embarrass them, into doing their part.
At one point I thought that the effects of climate change wouldn’t really be felt in my lifetime but things are happening faster than anticipated. But it’s the children who will feel the brunt of our greed and narcissism. I don’t understand why parents and grandparents and other relatives/friends don’t get this or why they don’t care.
I am mind-boggled by, what I can only assume to be, the stupidity of the people in Alberta (not all). They want the oil industry; it’s like they are saying – give me a shovel, a backhoe, a whatever, and, as long as I’m being paid now, I will dig my own grave and that of my children and grandchildren (if any are born). Are they brainwashed by the oil industry/politicians, are the media reports just oil industry/political propaganda? But, there is a thing these days called the internet to get a balance of information. Albertans should be out protesting, demanding that the jobs transition to a low-carbon economy – NOW.
I am truly sad and perplexed that Albertans care so little about us and themselves.
(a) Alberta Is Playing a Dangerous Game with Pipeline Ad Campaign – Mitchell Anderson, 24 Jan 2019, TheTyee.ca
(b) Inside Oil Giant Shell’s Race to Remake Itself For a Low-Price World – Jeffery Ball, 24 Jan 2015, Fortune – pg. 4
(c) How Alberta’s biggest oil companies are still raking in billions – Sharon J. Riley, 12 Jun 2019, The Narwhal
(d) Three Big Questions About British Columbia’s Climate Plan, Merran Smith, 19 Aug, 2016, Climate Energy Canada
(e) BC’s shiny new climate plan: A look under the hood – Policy Note, Marc Lee, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), 17 Dec 2018, Times Colonist
(f) LNG Canada: Short-term politics trumps long-term climate responsibility: Policy Note – Marc Lee, 04 Oct 2018, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA)
(g) Suncor Energy says driverless trucks will eliminate a net 400 jobs in the oilsands – Dan Healing, 31 Jan 2018, National Observer
(h) Oil’s Boom-and-Bust Cycle May Be Over. Here’s Why – 01 Mar 2018, Harvard Business Review
(i) How Much Are We Paying the Oil and Gas Corporations to Take Our Resources – http://hospitalsandprivacyandpolitics.noblogs.org
(j) Alberta Can Transition from Oil and Gas and Have a Strong Economy. Here’s How – Geoff Dembicki, 31 Jul 2019, TheTyee.ca
(k) United We Roll protest: Truck convoy arrives at Parliament Hill – Taylor Blewett, 21 Feb. 2019, Ottawa Citizen
(l) Canada’s Petro Paralysis, Diagnosed – Chris Tollefson, 2019-01-28, TheTyee.ca
(m) If Alberta Is The Front Line of Climate Change, Young People Are In The Trenches – Melanie Woods, 17 Aug 2019, HuffPost Canada