The devastating war in Ukraine is hastening the end of the fossil fuel era in many regions. Canada must read this new global reality correctly and not be misled by oil and gas CEOs ready to exploit another crisis to increase production and push outdated, high-carbon fuel on markets seeking to wean themselves off fossil fuels.

The argument for fossil fuel expansion, at a moment when the world is experiencing unprecedented droughts and floods caused by oil, gas and coal, is that countries need more energy — so let's make sure it’s Canadian oil. This ignores how fossil fuel dependence makes us vulnerable to price shocks and declining oil demand due to the meteoric increase in policies to ban fossil fuel vehicles and replace fossil fuel heating, as well as the simple fact that building renewable energy at scale is now cheaper than fossil fuels.

Canada’s oil is dirtier and costs more than most of the world’s, and it is projected to price out first as countries turn to the electrification of vehicles and heating. That’s why dozens of major international banks and insurance companies, including HSBC, BNP Paribas and Zurich Insurance now have policies not to insure or invest in the oilsands.

The knee-jerk call for more Canadian oil and gas ignores our responsibility to reduce pollution and fight climate change. Electrification and renewable investment are cheaper, safer, quicker and don’t lead to violent conflict or explode when bombed. Even a major solar spill is just a sunny day.

In this northern equivalent of the “drill, baby, drill” mantra, the one nod to our climate reality and commitment to reducing carbon pollution — a commitment we have so far embarrassingly failed to meet (making us the only G7 country completely off track) — has been that with carbon capture, we can create “cleaner oil.” Despite billions in investments, peer-reviewed science shows the industry’s attempts are not working, and in the case of Shell’s showcase Quest project in Alberta, it is emitting more carbon dioxide than it’s sequestering.

The inconvenient truth for the oil and gas lobby is that energy efficiency and renewable energy options can be deployed much faster and for less money than pipelines or LNG terminals. If we want to help Europe’s energy crisis and avoid both future wars fuelled by oil and the worst effects of climate change, we must accelerate the shift to renewable energy sources.

While it will be disruptive and expensive to replace gas from Russia in the short term, Europe has made crystal clear its commitment to quickly scale up renewables, increase energy efficiency and convert gas boilers to heat pumps, along with other measures to end its reliance on foreign fossil fuels. This approach is reflected both in the International Energy Agency’s 10-point plan on how to increase European energy security and in Germany’s commitment to accelerate wind and solar energy projects. With the United States also banning Russian oil reserves, President Joe Biden signalled his administration's acceleration in winding down western dependence on fossil fuels.

The rapid replacement of fossil fuels with clean energy sources now underway across Europe, and reinvigorated in the United States, cannot be taken as an opening for Canada to produce more oil and gas. Already, our current production levels — which are set to expand until 2050 — mean Canada cannot meet its climate commitments. However, the federal government, lobbied hard by the oil industry, is seriously considering bringing online new projects like the Bay du Nord offshore project that could lead to the development of a billion barrels of oil, creating the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions as 10 million gas-powered cars each year.

Calls for measures to expedite LNG projects are also up for consideration and would only grow our economy’s dependence on fossil fuels. LNG is mostly methane — a dangerous greenhouse gas 86 times worse than carbon dioxide in warming our planet over a 20-year period. Even the IEA’s 2050 scenarios show new LNG projects have no place in a climate-safe energy future. This week, the secretary-general of the United Nations tweeted: “Addiction to fossil fuels is mutually assured destruction.” A report released the same day found wealthy countries need to stop all fossil fuel production by 2034 to keep the possibility of limiting global warming to 1.5 C alive.

Opinion: If we want to help Europe’s energy crisis and avoid both future wars fuelled by oil and the worst effects of climate change, we must accelerate the shift to renewable energy sources, writes @Tzeporah Berman. #cdnpoli #ClimateEmergency

Recognition of the need for an immediate and absolute decline in emissions and production is why 11 countries and subnational governments, including Quebec, have signed onto the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance and have committed to stop expansion of fossil fuels. It’s also why 2,800 scientists, 101 Nobel laureates, 33 cities and 80 elected officials from 30 countries, including Canada, have endorsed the Fossil Fuel Non-proliferation Treaty Initiative. Canada needs to commit to stopping expansion of fossil fuels and support international co-operation to ensure an equitable wind-down of production.

The decline will happen regardless because of how cheap renewables have become and because so many countries, including our own, have already committed to banning the sale of fossil fuel cars. The question is whether it will be a managed decline or an unmanaged decline. An unmanaged decline means more people will suffer.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently released a landmark climate impacts report that said faster, deeper emissions cuts are needed to avoid climate catastrophes, which is why calls to bring back quashed pipeline projects like Keystone XL seem especially preposterous. Building more oil and gas infrastructure won’t help Canada build a climate-safe or energy-secure future.

As federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault said in recent days, “The solution to global energy problems is not to increase our dependency on fossil fuels. The best way to improve the energy security of European countries is to reduce dependence on oil and gas, regardless of where it’s coming from.”

His words are heartening but must turn into real action. To protect the public at home and abroad, we must break our dependence on volatile fossil fuels that fuel both wars and the climate crisis.

Tzeporah Berman is the international program director at Stand.Earth, former co-chair of the Alberta Government Oilsands Advisory Working Group, an adjunct professor of environmental studies at York University and the chair of the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty steering committee.

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The fossil fuel sector drives the energy agenda in Canada and are heavily influencing the energy-related policies of federal and provincial governments, often through biased studies of transition (to clean energy) pathways published by "advisory" groups. In particular they are heavily promoting "jumpstarting" a hydrogen economy (which is itself over-hyped) with blue hydrogen, which is hydrogen produced from natural gas with capture and burial (sequestration) of most of the CO2 byproduct (giving CCS or CCUS if some of the CO2 is used). The "jumpstarting" is necessary because green hydrogen, produced using renewable energy sources, is apparently currently too expensive but is expected to reach price parity with blue hydrogen "within a decade". So, in the meantime, we will use blue until green becomes cheap enough. Unfortunately, the fossil fuel companies want massive government subsidies for CCS/CCUS, in particular, which will obviously reduce the cost-competitiveness of green hydrogen (and all other green technologies) relative to blue. Since Ministers Guilbault and Wilkinson have already started to act as cheerleaders for CCS/CCUS (, which is a greenwashed fossil fuel subsidy by any measure, we can expect public money to start flowing into this scam in the upcoming federal budget.

The obvious solution is to subsidize green hydrogen initiatives, and a host of other clean energy and conservation projects.

About a decade ago North America's largest offshore wind farm was proposed in Hecate Strait just east of Haida Gwaii. The Naikun project was never built mainly because BC Hydro wouldn't offer a rate that would allow the private developer to break even, let alone profit. Some respondents from the Haida Nation also expressed discomfiture with the wind towers resting on bases drilled into the seabed, even though zero emission power would be available for Haida Gwaii as a replacement for its diesel generators. In 2020 Naikun entered into an agreement to sell its project interests to Northland Power Inc., an international player.

Good luck to them.

This is where the federal government should enter the picture. There are a couple of opportunities, the easiest and quickest would have been to offer a top up to BC Hydro's questionably inadequate power credit rates . Another, albeit more difficult but far more advantageous to society and First Nations, would be to build a smart clean power corridor / network and off to buy the power from projects like Naikun and sell it back to the grid at cost plus rates at key intertie points, or to export it for profit to share with the project owners and the province.

Ironically, a clean power corridor across provincial boundaries and in federal easements already has the legal precedence of TMX and therein should survive any legal challenge by pro-oil provinces.

Wind power is becoming a true giant. There are turbines that are so efficient they can now crank out double digit megawatts at peak times. Off shore wind turbines are now being built on floating bases capable of stabilizing themselves even in the worst storms, not unlike small versions of ballasted offshore oil drilling platforms -- but without the filth and pollution. A large offshore wind project north of Vancouver Island could power half the island, with an undersea cable connection to an expanded Island transmission grid, possibly with excess transmitted across the nation via the national smart grid using direct current (has minimal losses from line resistance).

Wind power has been criticized for using an enormous amount of concrete and steel. However, it's possible to make an offshore wind platform from green steel alloy formulated for anti-corrosion properties and a tower assembled from sections pre-manufactured from mass timber and joined on site with internal steel fasteners and a weather and water tight "jacket" on the outside. Laminated timber towers will weigh a lot less than sections made from steel or concrete. Carbon fibre blades are also now being manufactured to be 100% recycled.

Then there's the latest industrial-scale, cheaper non-lithium battery storage coming online today. This industry is fast evolving and it seems the central critiques are nullified with every new iteration. Moreover, the economics are powerful. Just yesterday I passed a gas station in Vancouver with $1.99.99 prices, which was 10 cents lower than last week. Bring in cheaper renewables and subsidized EVs and heat pumps and let the finances do the work.

Berman: "If we want to help Europe’s energy crisis and avoid both future wars fuelled by oil and the worst effects of climate change, we must accelerate the shift to renewable energy sources."

"Skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been." Smart advice, but Canada won't take it.
Under Trudeau, Canada has committed itself to fossil-fuel expansion. Don't expect him to step on the brakes now.
As should be clear by now, Canada's energy/climate policy is dictated by corporate Canada, the Big Banks, and Big Oil. The federal govt merely signs off on it. The Big Banks are determined to extract every last penny of profit from its investments. Big Oil will keep the oilsands party going as long as it can. Fossil-fuel lock-in.

Canada's energy/climate future will be determined by decisions made in foreign capitals. If and when Washington takes strong climate action, Canada's O&G industry loses its biggest customer. Hence, the push for new markets in Asia.

There is not yet the political will in the U.S. to kick its fossil fuel addiction. Not enough communities have been consumed by wildfires. Not enough Americans have perished in heatwaves. Not enough infrastructure has been lost to rising seas.
Because climate change is a disaster in slow motion, we may simply accept the status quo, resign ourselves to the inevitable, and fail to respond. Like the proverbial frog in a gradually boiling pot of water.
This is how the world goes over the climate cliff.

"Humanity is like a frog in a gradually boiling pot of water: Climate experts use famous analogy to warn that we are normalising freak weather and failing to notice extreme changes"
"Scientists from the University of California, Davis, warn that there is danger that this effect could cloud the public's perception of climate change.
"It could also impede government efforts to create policies that address climate change, they say.

Berman: "With the United States also banning Russian oil reserves, President Joe Biden signalled his administration's acceleration in winding down western dependence on fossil fuels."

Overly optimistic. Biden is walking down the same dead-end road: pouring billions of tax dollars into carbon capture and SMRs to perpetuate the fossil-fuel industry. Canadian politicians are just aping U.S. policies and rhetoric.

"Carbon Capture Takes Center Stage, But Is Its Promise an Illusion?
"In a major win for oil, coal, utilities and other industries, the federal government is poised to make its largest investment ever—more than $12 billion from last year’s infrastructure bill—in technologies that capture CO2 from smokestack emissions or straight from the air.
"'… The Biden administration is really doubling down on the fossil economy and the false solutions that are entrenching that fossil economy in the name of addressing the climate crisis,' said Carroll Muffett, chief executive of the Center for Int'l Environmental Law, a nonprofit advocacy group. 'I think that is a really significant failure of vision and failure of leadership.'
"The infrastructure bill, for example, will direct billions of dollars to producing electricity and hydrogen from fossil fuels paired with carbon capture and storage."

Canada's end use energy is 77% fossil fuels, 17% electricity of which 60% is renewable hydro. One doesn't eliminate 77% overnight, or even in a decade. We don't have the electricity supply to start off with, but there is too much invested by you and I in simple things like our home heating. I live in Alberta, believe we have serious climate warming problem and have followed it for 30 years. We have a serious leadership problem which isn't Trudeau but the Conservative Neoliberal Premiers who still are not on board. Kenny, Moe, Johansson and Ford. 55% of Canada's population. I suggest for Canada and the world, carbon capture is the only way we will achieve our goals. Can renewables, or hydrogen, or nuclear do it, not a chance. Europe is moving fast, but they have a decade head start on North America. Kenney like Biden is more concerned with keeping gas prices lower when Kenney is North America's most aggressive free marketer, except when it affects his voting base which seems to be weekly recently. So what are these alternatives that we can put in place in a decade or even 3 decades? And is there a world political will?

Well, do the math.

CCS is too expensive per tonne, and there are hundreds of millions of tonnes to capture and sequester in Canada. Hundreds of billions worldwide. There isn't enough money on the planet to cover the cost. Industrial oil industry CCS is a fantasy. However, carbon capture and sequestration through regenerative agriculture and forestry is already proven capable of drawing down millions of tonnes of CO2 in the limited places the experiments occurred in Sask., just through carbon-absorbing cover crops. Moreover, carbon in the soil is beneficial to plants. Ditto nutrients through nutrient absorbing plants and sequestration into the soil. And the whole thing is powered by sunshine.

A home owner doing the math when the feds and possibly the provinces offer subsidies on changing the gas furnace to an electric heat pump will no doubt react positively. Ditto EV buyers when they work out the savings in long term operating costs.

"Canada must read this new global reality correctly and not be misled by oil and gas CEOs ready to exploit another crisis to increase production and push outdated, high-carbon fuel on markets..." Naomi Klein wrote about the eagerness of plutocrats to create and exploit crises nearly 15 years ago in "The Shock Doctrine - The Rise of Disaster Capitalism." Nothing's changed since then.

Investing the 10s of billions earmarked for all types of energy production and greenwashing into retrofitting all existing buildings and mandating new builds as 0 energy consuming is the only way to address this issue. Coupled with electrification of transportation would almost completely solve increasing greenhouse gas emissions. One name; Amory Lovins.

Add another several hundred billions.

can be easily accomplished within the next 25 to 30 years or much less if we put our hands to it. No resear h necessary the technology already exists.

can be easily accomplished within the next 25 to 30 years or much less if we put our hands to it. No resear h necessary the technology already exists.