Last March I interviewed internationally recognized energy expert David Hughes at his home on Cortes Island. Publication of this story was delayed, in part, because of a six minute segment in which he discussed some of the issues raised in his newly published report Will the Trans Mountain Pipeline and Tidewater Access Boost Prices and Save Canada’s Oil Industry?However we touched upon a wide range of subjects, including Tight Oil, Canada’s Pipeline Capacity & the Trans Mountain Pipeline’s feasibility.
Some consider natural gas preferable to other fossil fuels “because it emits 50-60% less carbon dioxide (CO2) during combustion.” But over the course of its’100-year lifespan natural gas’ primary component has “a radiative forcing greater than 30 times that of CO2.”1 According to the David Suzuki Foundation, “Methane is responsible for 25% of already observed changes to Earth’s climate.” Two new studies find Canada’s methane emissions drastically underreported.
Alberta’s oil industry won a symbolic victory. President Trump calls his approval of the Keystone XL pipeline “a great day for jobs and energy independence” in the United States. Canada’s National Energy Board (NEB) admits the industry is not using its’ current pipeline capacity1 and adding more pipelines is “not consistent with the Paris Accord’s commitment to keep (Global) warming to two degrees Celsius, or its aspirational goal of limiting it to 1.5 degrees Celsius.”2 Approving the Keystone XL Pipeline is about our future on a planet where the scale and pace of extreme weather events is increasing.
“Canadian crude oil export pipelines are utilized at 85 to 90 per cent of their capacity … based on respective historical utilization rates.” – Canada’s Energy Future 2016, National Energy Board, p 92 ↩
Some believe the pan-Canadian climate plan is an important milestone on the pathway to mid-century decarbonization. The Federal government and provinces have agreed to “adopt strengthened building codes, to implement an effective clean fuels standard, and to increase the carbon price after 2022.” However Saskatchewan did not sign the agreement and Premiers like Christy Clark and Rachel Notley only did so because they were given “flexibility” to expand their province’s fossil fuel infrastructure. Future generations may look back upon the Trudeau era as the peak of LNG and oil sands development. Canada needs climate Churchills, not Chamberlains.
In 2008, British Columbia became the first North American jurisdiction to introduce a revenue-neutral carbon tax. This drew international recognition. That was 8 years ago. The Pembina Institute suggests British Columbia’s climate leadership may be something in the past.