Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr says Canada's pathway to a clean energy future includes not only transitioning to renewable sources of energy but also technology that makes traditional fossil fuels cleaner to produce and burn.
That path was laid out Thursday in a new report which points not only to developing more wind and solar power, but also to the environmental and economic benefits of Canada producing, shipping and burning oil and natural gas that is cleaner and more cost efficient.
The two-track approach is the main advice in the report from Carr's "generation energy" advisory council, a group of 14 people from the energy sector, indigenous communities and environmental groups.
"What this report understands is that oil and gas will be part of the energy mix for quite a while and the goal is to extract those resources more sustainably than ever," said Carr. "We are on the road to accomplishing that."
He said Canada's long-term goal is to become the world's cleanest producer of liquefied natural gas, which can then displace dirtier sources of electricity around the world, particularly coal in Asia.
Carr said the report's advice is closely aligned with a recent consensus reached by G20 energy ministers on how to move the world off the dirtiest sources of energy and will form the basis of Canada's national energy strategy which will be developed more fully in August during a federal-provincial energy ministers meeting.
Greenpeace Canada, however, is concerned that the report was developed largely by the fossil fuel industry and is not going to move the needle away from oil and gas very much.
Keith Stewart, a senior energy strategist at Greenpeace, said the report is disappointing because Canada is doubling down on oil and gas instead of being visionary and moving off fossil fuels entirely.
"Natural gas might be better than coal but it's still pretty greenhouse gas intensive," he said. "But this is supposed to be a long-term vision for a low-carbon economy and, frankly, that is an economy where oil and gas do not play a major role."
When Canada signed the Paris agreement, Stewart said it agreed to aim for having net zero emissions, where whatever emissions are produced are offset and that means "getting right off fossil fuels."