The contrast couldn’t have been much more striking. On the same day the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report showing both how far the world is from meeting its climate targets and the central role wind and solar energy have to play in getting it back on track, one of Canada’s biggest oil and gas companies decided it was time to get out of the renewable energy business entirely.
Suncor, which has developed eight wind projects across three provinces since 2002 and has a stake in the Forty Mile Solar installation in Alberta, announced Monday that it would exit that business to focus on things like hydrogen and carbon capture technology.
When Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault said recently that “business as usual” was over for Canada’s oil and gas industry, this surely wasn’t what he had in mind.
In fairness, Suncor isn’t turning its back on renewable power completely, since it can still procure wind and solar from other companies through power purchase agreements. But while European oil companies like BP, Shell, Eni and Equinor continue to add billions of dollars to their annual investments in renewable energy, which include massive new wind farms off the east coast of the United States, Suncor will follow the path laid out by American companies like ExxonMobil and Chevron.
That path is defined by two things: a renewed focus on fossil fuels, along with so-called “moonshot” technologies that might, in theory, eventually decarbonize them.
Whether this represents a prudent strategy or just blind faith in the status quo remains to be seen. But it should be clear by now that anyone expecting North America’s oil companies to fund or finance the energy transition are going to be sorely disappointed. Those companies are placing a bet on our collective unwillingness to move more quickly on climate policy and expecting us to miss the targets laid out in the IPCC report by a wide margin.
That bet is hardly a sure thing, mind you. As UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in a statement: “Investing in new fossil fuel infrastructure is moral and economic madness. Such investments will soon be stranded assets, a blot on the landscape, and a blight on investment portfolios.”
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Governments and institutions that take climate change seriously, including our own federal government, can’t afford to wait around for these companies or their shareholders to figure that out.
Instead, those governments and institutions need to get far more serious about supporting and stewarding investments in renewable energy, both at home and abroad. And if they want to push back against Russian geopolitical aggression, which has been bankrolled by its fossil fuel resources, they can focus those investment dollars in western Europe.
As Dave Jones, the global program lead with the U.K.-based think tank Ember, told Forbes recently, “Ukraine should be the turning point to enable governments to go full throttle on renewable energy investments.”
Climate policy critics will surely suggest an aggressive push towards renewable energy will cost too much and do too little, although with natural gas and petrol prices in Europe soaring to record levels, it’s much harder for them to pretend fossil fuels are in any way affordable. But according to a recent report from Wärtsilä Energy, a Finnish company that specializes in industrial energy technology, a rapid transition could actually save Europeans money.
“Increasing energy independence does not need to cost more for power companies or energy consumers,” it says. “Accelerating the transition to a clean energy system could save European countries 323 billion EUR by 2030, compared to our modelled baseline scenario.”
So what’s standing in the way? Inertia and political resistance, mostly. We’ve seen that here in Canada, where Alberta’s environment minister has repeatedly described the federal Emissions Reduction Plan as “insane.” But as the IPCC’s latest report makes clear, continuing down the path we’re on right now is hardly rational, given the long-term ecological and economic consequences.
If Canada’s oil and gas companies want to bet on moonshots rather than proven solutions like wind and solar, we need to ensure they’re doing it with their own money, not ours.
Fawcett: "Governments and
Fawcett: "Governments and institutions that take climate change seriously, including our own federal government…"
All evidence to the contrary.
Endorsements of the Liberals' plan to fail ring hollow.
Worse, such positive messages breed complacency.
Enabling Trudeau, Corporate Canada, the Big Banks, Big Oil — the architects and agents of failure.
If you're not part of the solution, Mr. Fawcett, you're part of the problem.
Fawcett: "So what’s standing
Fawcett: "So what’s standing in the way? Inertia and political resistance, mostly. We’ve seen that here in Canada, where Alberta’s environment minister has repeatedly described the federal Emissions Reduction Plan as 'insane.'"
Barking up the wrong tree.
Pinning the Liberals' plan to fail on Alberta does not wash. Obvious diversion.
One province — Conservative Alberta — cannot force the federal govt to fail on climate. With just two seats in Alberta, the Liberals do not depend on Alberta for electoral victory.
The plan to fail on climate was formulated years ago by Corporate Canada, the Big Banks, and Big Oil. Liberal Party power brokers took on the mission. Trudeau is just the smiling face of the campaign.
The Liberal Party is Corporate Canada's front office.
"The Rise and Fall of Trudeau's 'Grand Bargain' on Climate"
The plan is to "green" fossil fuels, not get off them.
In the O&G sector, the Liberals are betting the house on costly, inefficient, unviable, and unproven technologies — white elephants like carbon capture (CCS).
None of these new projects has been designed, approved, funded, or built.
Worse, CCS perpetuates fossil fuels, does not capture downstream emissions, fails to capture other pollutants, and creates huge opportunity costs. Captures a fraction of upstream emissions at taxpayers' expense. Throwing the fossil fuel industry a lifeline with public dollars.
A "Hail Mary" long bomb doomed to fail.
"Canada's emissions reduction plan’s reliance on carbon capture called 'not at all realistic’" (CP, March 30th 2022)
The Liberals' climate "plan"
The Liberals' climate "plan" is to sell fossil fuels — incredibly, to fund climate action. Expand oilsands production, exports, and markets. Shovel billions of tax dollars into the pockets of largely foreign-funded oil companies reporting record profits to "green" the oilsands.
The Liberals' "plan" is premised on fossil fuel expansion. Betting on global failure to take action — just like Suncor. In defiance of the IEA and every IPCC report.
"UN leader slams 'dangerous radicals' increasing oil and gas production"
Do the IEA and IPCC approve Canada's climate plan?
What do the Liberals know that the IEA and IPCC do not?
The Liberals will not change course without pressure from Liberal supporters and party members.
As long as Liberal apologists in the media shovel party propaganda out the door, blaming Conservative Alberta for Liberal Ottawa's failure, there is little hope for that pressure to build.
That's the idea, isn't it, Max?
No, "the oil companies aren’t going to save us."
Trudeau's Liberals aren't going to, either.
Again, your hatred of Trudeau
Again, your hatred of Trudeau (and Max Fawcett) shines forth here above all else. We all know what needs to happen, generally, but clearly we have this pesky democratic system to work within.
You make no mention of the NDP finally grasping that they are on the same side as the Liberals, which means we can at least breathe freely with the psycho conservatives outnumbered. That's as good as it gets in Canada at the moment. Time to just admit that you vote conservative I'd say.
I oppose the Liberals' plan
I oppose the Liberals' plan to fail on climate.
I also oppose dishonesty and deception in climate discussions, whether from denialist right-wingers or neoliberal "progressive" parties captured by big business and the fossil fuel industry.
I also oppose distractions and diversions from partisans and party apologists.
"Hate" is the wrong word — and has no place in a civil discussion.
I am in excellent company:
"UN leader slams 'dangerous radicals' increasing oil and gas production"
U.N. Secretary-General Guterres: "It is a file of shame, cataloguing the empty pledges that put us firmly on track towards an unlivable world."
"Some government and business leaders are saying one thing – but doing another."
“Simply put, they are lying. And the results will be catastrophic.”
"But high-emitting governments and corporations are not just turning a blind eye; they are adding fuel to the flames."
"Investing in new fossil fuels infrastructure is moral and economic madness."
Don't blame conservatives for the Liberals' failure on climate.
The Cons have not been in power since 2015. Trudeau's Liberals have won three consecutive elections.
Trudeau does not need to win votes from Alberta or seats in Saskatchewan to win federal elections. Conservative premiers do not sit opposite Trudeau in the House of Commons. Liberal victories depend on Atlantic Canada, Central Canada, and the Lower Mainland. Votes from the Prairie provinces not required. The Liberals have nothing to gain electorally by pandering to intransigent Albertans and the oilpatch.
In recent elections, a majority of Canadian voters have voted for parties other than Conservative. In 2015, Trudeau handily won a majority government with a strong mandate from voters on climate action.
"As in 2019, climate change was a major issue in the campaign. In March 2021, Conservative leader O'Toole announced a carbon pricing plan to replace the current Liberal carbon tax, despite previous Conservative opposition to any form of a carbon tax."
So it was actually the Conservatives who stood to lose seats to the Liberals because they failed to take climate change seriously. Just the opposite of what Liberal apologists suggest.
Liberal support for the oilpatch has nothing to do with winning seats in Alberta or staying in power. The neo-Liberals serve Corporate Canada and the Big Banks, heavily invested in the oilsands. It is these entities and not conservative premiers that dictate the Liberals' energy/climate policies.
Corporate Canada is banking on fossil fuel expansion and climate action failure. The Liberal Party is Corporate Canada's front office.
Industry's plan to fail was set in motion long ago.
Trudeau and Liberal power players behind the scenes are sincere fossil fuel boosters and reluctant climate warriors — not the other way around.
Trudeau (2016): "There is growth to be had in the oilsands. They will be developing more fossil fuels while there's a market for it, while we transition off fossil fuels."
Trudeau (2017): "No country would find 173 billion barrels of oil in the ground and just leave them there."
I believe Trudeau is sincere. Why don't his apologists believe him?
The slander from Trudeau and
The slander from Trudeau and Notley supporters against climate activists who dare to criticize Dear Leader is absurd.
Obviously, if I reject the Liberals' plan to fail on climate, I also reject the Conservatives' efforts to do likewise.
Canadians across the spectrum agree that the Liberals' reliance on CCS is a plan to fail. AB NDP leader Rachel Notley calls it a "fantasy".
The Observer has another write-up on CCS today:
"Lessons from Australia show CCUS is about capturing public opinion and public finances, not carbon"
Progressive Canadians are waking up to the swindle. Online comments on Twitter:
"No matter who we vote for, they work only for the same wealthy donors and lobbyists as the last gov."
"Their climate plan is to extract as much profit as possible for their donors and lobbyists before they are out of office. Their plans are always short term profits. Our system is so corrupt and rigged to the wealthy."
The Liberals and Conservatives both plan to fail on climate. Which is worse? Climate sabotage on the right — or betrayal by "progressive" parties?
Who's worse on climate? The deniers who deny their house is on fire, or the deniers who accept their house is on fire, but throw fuel on the flames — then stand back and watch it burn?
Conservatives generally deny the problem and reject the science. Petro-progressives like Trudeau, Notley, and Horgan claim to accept the climate change science, but still push pipelines, approve LNG projects, promote oilsands expansion, subsidize fossil fuels, and let fossil fuel interests dictate the agenda.
Acknowledge the science, but ignore its implications. Boast about climate leadership, but push fossil fuel expansion and pipelines. Sign int'l agreements, but fail to live up to them. Putting emissions targets out of reach.
In fact, the federal Liberals and provincial NDP parties (AB and B.C.) have proven far more effective than the Conservatives in delivering on Big Oil's agenda.
The new denialism. Just as delusional as the old kind but more insidious. And far more dangerous.
"The New Climate Denialism: Time for an Intervention" (The Narwhal, 2016)
Outright denialism is
Outright denialism is obviously far worse than anything else and you know it. I couldn't care less who's leading what party; all I want is leadership that's progressive, honest, and capable, which means that the right wing has totally cancelled itself out, period. They're Putin and the trucker convoy and the GOP.
Politics being what it is, democracy being what it is, human nature being what it is, falling in with any cult of personality is just stupid.
And hatred is a valid human emotion btw, let's be honest about THAT how about?
I think the National Observer
I think the National Observer should get Geoffery Pounder on as a columnist.
The Liberals just greenlighted Bay du Nord, confirming their position on climate. We've got the 10th target that is guaranteed to be missed. We should pay attention to Antonio Guterres and use appropriate language, such as "criminal."
"Conservatives generally deny
"Conservatives generally deny the problem and reject the science. Petro-progressives like Trudeau, Notley, and Horgan claim to accept the climate change science, but still push pipelines, approve LNG projects, promote oilsands expansion, subsidize fossil fuels, and let fossil fuel interests dictate the agenda."
Largely true. But rather dismissive of the extent of the damage of the Conservative record. Conservatives do not "generally" deny the problem (climate change) and "reject" the science. They follow every step of denial outright. They literally act against science, fire scientists and censor scientific evidence, not just reject them. Don't get me started on their barbaric social agenda -- something Geoffrey has never addressed once that I recall, in his long winded climate absolutist critiques -- especially with the latest manifestation of alt right convoy style hatred.
Definitions by a political cynic:
Libs: two-faced vacuous leader with a gold metal in platitudes but very weak knees on climate action; follows the donor money and lobbyist agenda like he's on a leash; some successes (carbon tax ...).
NDP: weak leader too chicken to take a stand and put climate on the government defeat fulcrum that is within only his reach; too busy polishing the party's halo and protecting its diminished finances to actually take any risks, even moderate ones; has crowing rights on forcing the Libs to add pharmacare and dentalcare to the list of supports; childcare was already on the Lib's agenda. Net gain: two social programs ... maybe.
Green Party: will not negotiate with the NDP for the good of the country; runs fake candidates in some ridings; has the best overall unrealized potential.
Elizabeth May: deserves huge credit for steadfast intelligent discourse, but her party has continually let her down with embarrassingly immature infighting; she is a party unto herself.
Conservatives: the Harper / Poilievre wing have the momentum; will eliminate not just every climate policy but will decimate every social program within sight; the worst of a collection of party choices ranging from milquetoast to bad.
Climate is No. One. But the social safety net is also vital. Progressives are weak on the former and strong on the latter.
One can dream about a Liberal Democratic Green coalition with both a strong climate and social agenda winning 2/3rds of the vote. But the cynic will see the gamesmanship and compromise needed to make that happen, and hold very serious doubts.