Canada’s Big Oil industry needs to be re-evaluated for the country’s environmental future

Opinion: Canada must stop treating its Big Oil as some sacred cow

“Reflections on COP28: The Global Climate Summit Breakthrough”

The world watched with bated breath as the United Nations hosted COP28, the pivotal climate summit known for its high tensions and heated debates. This year’s conference, however, held even greater significance, as it was the first to come face-to-face with the stark reality of breaching the 1.5 C warming limit set in the 2015 Paris Agreement. Chairing the event was an oil and gas executive, casting a harsh light on the conflicting interests entrenched in this UN process.

Impact of the COP28 Agreement

Despite the palpable tensions at the COP28 summit, a glimmer of hope emerged in the form of the final agreement, which committed to transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems. While this transition may present challenges for some nations, it aligns with the growing global trend toward renewable energy. The rising deployment of renewable energy sources and the decreasing costs of power and battery storage consistently signal a shift away from traditional fossil fuels.

Canada’s Climate Dilemma

For Canada, the COP28 agreement poses a significant dilemma. Despite positioning itself as a climate leader, Canada remains the world’s fourth-largest oil producer and fifth-largest gas producer. Compounding this issue is the fact that the fossil fuel sector is Canada’s fastest-growing source of emissions. Being publicly called out at the UN’s September Climate Ambition Summit for its significant expansion of fossil fuels only exacerbated the situation.

Investing in the Future

To stay competitive in the future global economy, Canada must invest in industries poised for growth. The EV supply chain has already attracted a significant portion of foreign direct investment, promising to create more jobs and drive manufacturing growth. Clean Energy Canada’s job modeling also suggests substantial growth in clean energy employment, outpacing the decline in fossil fuel jobs. However, to truly harness this potential, Canada must prioritize a decline in pollution from existing fossil fuel production to meet emissions targets and access carbon-conscious markets.

Policy and Investment Considerations

The Canadian federal government has taken commendable steps to address these challenges, with new methane regulations, investment tax credits, and emissions caps on the oil and gas industry. However, the government’s generous carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) tax credit has raised questions about its investment priorities. Given the undeniable growth potential of Canada’s critical minerals, automotive manufacturing, and clean energy sectors, the allocation of public funds to carbon capture technology remains a point of contention.

Facing the Inevitable

Despite the deep-seated cultural fixation on the fossil fuel industry, Canada must confront the inescapable reality of global energy transition. While the shift away from fossil fuels may present challenges, aligning the nation’s economic prosperity with future growth sectors is paramount. The world has spoken, and the evidence is clear – it’s time for Canada to embrace this reality and lead the charge toward a cleaner, more sustainable future.



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