He might be trailing in the polls and on his way to an epic electoral defeat, but Justin Trudeau isn’t done fighting just yet. During his Wednesday interview on Real Talk with Ryan Jespersen, the prime minister threw a few well-placed jabs in the direction of Alberta’s perpetually pugilistic provincial government. “The world is changing,” he said, “and it’s not a plot by eastern bastards. The world is looking at net zero right now, and Alberta can be part of that. But right-wing ideology is getting in the way of Alberta’s success.”

The provincial government, in other words, needs to get out of the way of Alberta’s businesses. If this was intended to provoke Premier Danielle Smith, well, mission accomplished. She fired back with a rant on social media that accused Trudeau of describing Albertans as “fools” (he didn’t) and whined about him not contacting her before visiting the province (he did). At no point did she even attempt to engage with the points he actually made in his interview.

And no wonder: they’re really good ones. “Canada can and should be the reliable provider of net-zero energy in a net-zero world by 2050,” Trudeau said. “If we’re going to be that, we need Albertans to be thinking and working on that every single day. And having a government in Alberta that won’t even talk about the reality of climate change is putting the brakes on making sure there are good jobs for Albertans in the energy sector for decades to come.”

Amen. Whether it’s the moratorium on all renewable energy development, the continued mismanagement of the oil and gas industry’s environmental liabilities or the steadfast refusal to acknowledge the imperatives of climate change, the Smith government is actively running interference on behalf of the status quo.

There’s no better proof here than its handling of the proposed federal cap on oil and gas emissions that essentially calls the industry’s bluff on targets and technologies it has been talking up for years. Rather than registering factual disagreements about the policy, Smith and her senior ministers choose to portray it as a conspiracy by eastern elites to frustrate Alberta’s oil and gas industry. That’s an industry, it bears repeating, that has benefited enormously from federal largesse over the last eight years, whether in the form of pipelines or piles of cash for the cleanup of oil wells.

In a recent video shared by the premier, Environment Minister Rebecca Schulz suggested that “the real goal isn’t to reduce emissions. It is to cap production. And when these technologies fail to be in place by 2030, they are banking on being able to shut down … production as an alternative.” Why? Because, Schulz (who is, once again, the environment minister) says, “It’s never been about reducing emissions.”

Instead, she says, it’s about Steven Guilbeault’s lifelong quest to kill off Alberta’s oil and gas industry. “The oil and gas [emissions] cap may not be achievable and this federal government may even lose the next election before it can be implemented. But by then, the damage will already be done. Investors will look at Canada and decide to take their money and their investments elsewhere.”

Here, at least, she manages to say something accurate, even if it’s by accident. The ongoing attempts by provincial and federal Conservatives to filibuster the Trudeau government’s climate policies are damaging investor sentiment and it will make them decide to take their money elsewhere. As a 2021 study done for Calgary Economic Development shows, the energy transition presents a $61-billion opportunity for the province by 2050 and could create 170,000 jobs in the clean tech sector.

That opportunity will be squandered if the provincial government keeps signalling to the world that it doesn’t believe in the importance of that transition, never mind its own role in reducing emissions from the oil and gas sector. Indeed, a new report from Clean Prosperity shows that without more certainty in the longer-term price of carbon — one that is constantly being undermined by Conservative politicians in Alberta — the necessary investments in industrial decarbonization won’t happen fast enough.

Justin Trudeau came to Alberta, and he packed some truth bombs in his carry-on luggage. Why he's right about Alberta's continued filibuster of federal climate targets, and why the UCP seems determined to keep getting in the way.

As I’ve said and written before, maybe that’s the whole point. By stalling for time and casting doubt on the future of carbon pricing in Canada, Conservatives are making it impossible for the federal government to achieve its climate targets. They are, in other words, deliberately getting in the way of the entrepreneurs and investors who could actually help decarbonize Alberta’s electricity grid and its oil and gas industry — and even meet the federal emissions cap while still growing production.

Calling out this behaviour probably won’t win Justin Trudeau any more seats in Alberta. It’s unlikely to do much for his electoral fortunes anywhere else in the country, either. But Albertans deserve to hear the truth about who’s actually trying to threaten their long-term prosperity, even if they’re not prepared to listen to it just yet. After all, they’re not going to get it here from their provincial government.

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Unfortunately, there seems to be little interest in the truth among mainstream Canadian voters.

From my perspective, the Federal government continues to bargain in good faith on the climate emergency inititiatives despite getting nothing but pushback publicly in order to satisfy the right wing base. I've always been a believer that logic, truth and common sense will win out in the long term. I still believe that, but will it be soon enough?

Fawcett: "[Conservatives] are deliberately getting in the way of the entrepreneurs and investors who could actually help decarbonize Alberta’s electricity grid and its oil and gas industry — and even meet the federal emissions cap while still growing production."

This is a myth. There is no technology — CCS, SMRs, blue hydrogen — that will allow Alberta to maintain, much less expand, carbon-intensive oil production and meet the federal emissions cap. The industry's grossly under-reported emissions have likely surpassed any such cap already.

Total oilsands emissions including projects that are under construction, have received approval, or are seeking approval "blow well past" Alberta's cap. (Pembina Institute)
"One of the largest oilsands mines ever proposed advances to public hearings" (The Narwhal, 2018)

Fawcett: "At no point did Premier Danielle Smith even attempt to engage with the points he actually made in his interview. And no wonder: they’re really good ones. 'Canada can and should be the reliable provider of net-zero energy in a net-zero world by 2050,' Trudeau said."

No such thing as net-zero oil and gas.
Carbon capture (CCS) captures a mere fraction of industry's upstream emissions and zero emissions downstream at the consumer end. Captures no other pollutants generated by fossil fuel combustion.
CCS does not capture so much as a single molecule of the 80-90% of emissions from a barrel of oil generated downstream by consumers at the point of combustion. No CCS for cars, trucks, ships, or jets, in other words.

CCS applies only to that small fraction of upstream emissions in concentrated waste streams subject to CCS technology. I.e., even if upstream CCS were effective, it would not produce net-zero oil and gas. Expensive, energy-intensive, and inefficient. Limited application in the oilsands.

Pembina Institute: In the oilsands sector, "most CO2 is emitted in low concentration streams, and the efforts to capture it will be challenging and expensive."
Smoke and mirrors.

As the Alberta Government admits, CCS cannot be counted on to reduce O&G industry emissions:
"Alberta's formal response to Ottawa's proposal says … oilsands production has already risen above the forecasts that were used to establish the proposed 100-megatonne limit and that the technology needed to bring emissions down enough doesn't yet exist."
"'Not be tolerated': Alberta files formal response to proposed oilsands emissions cap" (Calgary Herald, 05-Feb-24).

Emissions cap, bah. The tar sands are going to go down, and fairly soon. The tar sands are going to go down whether the federal government gets some guts and starts shutting them down, or at least enforces an emissions cap, or not. The tar sands are going to go down whether Danielle Smith throws tantrums and blocks all other economic development in the province or not. The tar sands are going to go down whether or not Pierre Poilievre is elected and rips out all climate-related policies.

The transition is happening, peak oil demand will arrive rather shortly, when supply exceeds demand the most expensive oil will be dropped first, and that would be tar sands oil at all of the extraction, transportation and refining stages. Premier Smith can kneecap the rest of Alberta's economy so Albertans will be unemployed when it happens all she wants, but it will still happen.

Watching Ryan Jesperson predictably sink to the occasion by accosting the PM in "Real Talk" Alberta style with negative poll results, and even after Trudeau replied reasonably by putting it in perspective from his OWN personal experience STILL having the nerve to REPEAT it with the emotional subtext of, "but doesn't it get into your HEAD how people don't LIKE you and don't want to even "have a beer" with you?" Poilievre's tedious, hammering refrain of "how much, how much, how much" came to mind. AGAIN.
Reality TV truly was the beginning of our dumbing down and our cultural descent, characterized by breaking people down emotionally as entertainment, Jerry Springer style. And even if an actual discussion ensued in that Jesperson interview, listeners no doubt zoned it out, or to the extent that they kept "listening" mainly waited for another "take down" or landed punch, like in any sporting event. This when the sporting event, the horse race/federal election in question isn't even happening yet and likely won't be for awhile, but meanwhile there's the warm-up, the boxing match between the PM and PP to whet everyone's appetite. Even CBC talked about it on the "At Issue" panel where Rosemary Barton's ongoing, much-rewarded snarky conservatism is passively aggressively on display, casting some doubt on the CBC board members actual commitment to public broadcasting.
So I guess this is where we are now and can be seen as some progress in the culture war. As usual, we're following the over the top bad-boy American style, but Trudeau isn't Biden; he's very much up to it after unprecedented provocation, so bring it on.
Biden's a bit of a metaphor for the more advanced state of cultural decay the States are in now with the Supreme Court finally captured, but that also means the right wing is fully outed on all fronts, including their overarching aim of controlling women's reproductive rights, who have very much noticed.

The world is passing Alberta by. By the time Albertans notice, Danielle Smith et al will be in comfy retirement in Arizona on their dime.

...at which point, Smith will find out that Arizona is a desert, climate disruption has made it unliveable due to extreme drought, and she'll have to move somewhere less damaged by carbon pollution. I'd enjoy the irony if Smith's stupidity wasn't on track to destroy Alberta's economy and liveability* in the meantime. *(Hint: think of the current drought. As for economy, bitumen will be the first casualty of net-zero policies.)

A few weeks ago, Max said Trudeau needs to get rid of Steven Guilbeault - even though Guilbeault has been most forthright about the need for the oil and gas industry to step up to the plate.

Meanwhile, I'm not sure what Trudeau meant by “Canada can and should be the reliable provider of net-zero energy in a net-zero world by 2050" What form of energy is he referring to? Because one of the benefits of renewables like wind and solar is that they can be used by many countries to produce zero emissions energy domestically. Energy from oil and gas can virtually never be zero emissions. Unless CCS is implemented in every context the fossil fuel is burned.

Surely Mr. Trudeau should be wanting the developing world to be part of the global zero carbon economy - as producers and consumers of net zero energy. Yes Canada can be *a* provider of net zero energy but so could - and should - most other countries.