The preferred strategy for fossil fuel-producing countries in the age of decarbonization is becoming more apparent every day. Encourage and enjoy the economic boom of a wholesale greening in their own economy while planning on being one of the last producers standing and exporting the hell out of their fossil fuel reserves and refined products.
Norway has been at this for years, and a recent Globe and Mail editorial tells us their strategy is the way of the future for Canada. “Norway aims to cash in on oil and gas for years to come, including through exports to Europe… But Norway has a green reputation because it’s also committed to sharply reducing emissions across the economy…”
Let’s call this approach that combines greening a domestic economy while increasing exports of fossil fuels the Norwegian model.
The U.S. has grown into the largest oil and natural gas producer on the planet while making substantial decreases in carbon emissions since 2005 (the Paris Agreement base year), achieving a 20 per cent reduction as of 2020. They’ve also emerged as a huge exporter of oil and gas, for example, going from zero crude exports in 2010 to almost four million barrels per day in July of this year. They’ve been very successful in implementing the Norwegian model.
Another example that fits the model is the much-ballyhooed U.S. climate change action bill, the Inflation Reduction Act. It includes large subsidies for electric vehicle (EV) purchases and other tax credit measures designed to decarbonize the U.S. economy. But one of the centrepieces is subsidies for the oil and gas industry to implement carbon sequestering to decarbonize emissions during the production phase while producing products that emit many times more CO2 when consumed. As well, the act opens up access for new drilling on millions of acres of federal lands and offshore areas.
Our PM has also been trying to get Canada to emulate the Norwegian model. He’s bought the ancient Trans Mountain pipeline and is building an overpriced new bitumen pipeline to the West Coast to complement it. He’s also approved major expansions in our offshore oil and gas production, given big tax credits for carbon sequestering for our oilsands industry to greenwash our bitumen, and approved GHG-spewing LNG facilities. Justin Trudeau’s actions say he meant it when he said, “No country would find 173 billion barrels of oil in the ground and leave them there.”
Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault when asked in interviews how he reconciles decarbonizing our domestic economy while promoting the production and exporting of high-carbon material from this country has a response that is basically, “Hey, the UN IPCC doesn’t say we can’t.” Which may remind you of this quote from Stephen Harper about asbestos exports in 2011: “This government will not put Canadian industry in a position where it is discriminated against in a market where it is permitted.”
Despite being such a fossil fuel-friendly administration, the federal Liberals are portrayed as the opposite by Canadian fossil fuel proponents and get no credit with them for these actions.
On the other hand, the Trudeau government has implemented a too-low-to-be-effective carbon tax and taken a Paris target we couldn’t possibly meet in 2030 and doubled down on it. And despite all the green rhetoric, their track record is abysmal; there have been no actual emissions reductions since they took office in 2015 (ignoring 2020 pandemic effects).
To be somewhat fair, after seven years in power, the Trudeau government is finally getting more serious on climate change initiatives, with plans to ramp up the carbon price to where it should be able to influence consumer decisions, implementing a low-carbon fuels standard that could change the way fuels are supplied in this country and having serious talks about a cap on emissions in the oil and gas sector.
Opinion: The #Trudeau government is pushing the "Norway model," greening the economy while raking in profits from fossil fuels. @rossbelot writes for @NatObserver. #norway #ClimateTargets #CarbonEmissions #cdnpoli
Unfortunately for these policies, a recent Ipsos poll found 27 per cent of Canadians don’t worry at all about climate change and another 32 per cent worry “a little,” suggesting well over half of Canadians aren’t that concerned. This suggests aggressive complex policies won’t likely be widely supported by public opinion.
It’s a big opening for new Conservative Party of Canada Leader Pierre Poilievre, and he knows it. He’ll continue the Liberals’ policies of promoting fossil fuel production, but unlike the Liberals, he’ll get credit for it. He’ll also soft pedal domestic climate change action since it isn’t seen as a priority for a large portion of the population.
For those of us who want substantial climate change action in Canada, the last seven years have been a major disappointment and that disappointment seems likely to continue into the future.