DEBATE: COP28 and Canada’s Role in Global Energy Markets

COP28 and Canada's role in global energy markets v2

Another year has passed, and another round of commitments from some leaders at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) looking to transform the entire global energy system in just a few short decades. But just how practical is such an action, and where does Canada fit into it all as a major oil and natural gas producing and exporting nation?

Join Cody Battershill, Founder and Chief Spokesperson of Canada Action, as he debates the topic with Peter McCartney, Climate Campaigner with the Wilderness Committee, on the Mike Smyth Show of CKNW 980 out of Vancouver, B.C.


Or, keep reading for the full transcript between Mike, Cody, Peter, and the callers below. Also see:


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Mike: All right, here we go now with our great debate on COP 28, the UN climate change conference underway in Dubai.

Lots on the line for Canada here. Been going on all week. Lots of controversy, too, including the president of this year's conference, Sultan Ahmad Al Jabar. He is the head of the COP 28 conference this year, and he is an oil executive in Dubai.

He really threw everyone for a loop this week when he questioned the phase out of fossil fuels. Have a listen to this report from Global News.

Global News: The head of COP 28 under fire again. There is no science out there or no scenario out there that says that the phase-out of fossil fuel is what's going to achieve. 1.5... reported by the Guardian and Center for Climate Reporting.

Sultan al Jabar made the comments in an online event ahead of the summit. He also suggested there can't be a phase out of fossil fuels alongside sustainable development. Quote, "unless you want to take the world back into caves."

Mike: Okay, he has walked back some of that here in the last few days. All right, let's discuss it now, both sides of it for you.

Peter McCartney, Climate Campaigner at the Wilderness Committee. Thanks, Peter, for coming on.

Peter: Hey, thanks for having me. Appreciate it.

Mike: Cody Battershill also on the line. Cody is the founder of Canada Action. That's an oil and gas advocacy group. Cody, thank you for coming on today.

Cody: Hey, good morning, Mike, and happy Friday to you and Peter.

Mike: Thanks for doing this, guys. Peter McCartney, let me go to you first. The COP 28 gathering. This year, we got more than 70,000 delegates there in the United Arab Emirates. What are you hoping that emerges from this gathering here?

Peter: Yeah. What I think lots of people around the world are hoping is that the COP 28 conference results in an agreement to phase out fossil fuels. That is what over 100 countries are pushing for. Unfortunately, these conferences are designed by consensus.

And so countries like Russia and Saudi Arabia would actually have to agree to that in order for it to make it into the deal. But there is lots of pressure going on right now, and the countries that are arguing against this are really being put on the spot to know you are actively undermining our last best chance to protect the planet and maintain global warming at safe levels.

Mike: Cody, your thoughts?

Cody: Well, I mean, it's interesting that Russia and Saudi Arabia are among the biggest benefactors of anti pipeline activism in Canada. A lot of these other producers don't share our standards for protecting people, for reducing emissions and for collaborating on carbon capture and storage, clean technology, working with Indigenous communities, and supporting Canada's social programs.

There is actually a lot of good news coming out of COP, specifically around nuclear power. Canada is a leader in uranium mining and also in nuclear power development. That's a big, huge positive.

Also, Canada has been a leader in methane and flaring reductions for many years, and now other countries are looking at maybe increasing their stringencies.

But again, we do need to be balanced because there's not currently a technologically and economically affordable option to replace fossil fuels.

And I like what Canada has been doing. Investing in wind, investing in solar, hydro, nuclear, and also recognizing the reality that we do need oil and gas. And when we shut down Canada, those other countries that Peter mentioned are the ones who benefit.

Mike: Okay, I want to talk a little bit about what's on the line here for Canada at this conference. And Canada has a huge contingent of people  at COP 28 right now in Dubai.

Let's have a listen to... I'm going to play a clip here of Alberta Premier Danielle Smith and also the federal conservative leader Steven Guilbeault. Here's Danielle Smith here, furious at the federal government and the proposed emissions cap on the oil sands in Alberta. She says this would be devastating for Alberta. Let's listen.

Danielle Smith: Today's announced de facto production cap on Alberta's oil and gas sector amounts to an intentional attack by the federal government on the economy of Alberta.

Justin Trudeau and his eco-extremist Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Steven Guilbeault, are risking hundreds of billions of dollars in investments in Alberta's and Canada's economy and core social programs.

Mike: Okay, I saw the Alberta premier there calling out Steven Guilbeault, the federal environment minister who was at COP 28, and he was asked about this in Dubai. And here's the federal environment minister firing back at Alberta.

Steven Guilbeault: But we've done a number of things to tackle the emissions from the oil and gas sector, but unfortunately, that's not enough. I mean, it's going to be the law. The federal law. Provinces can't simply decide to ignore federal laws in our federation.

Mike: Okay, so, Peter, this standoff continues between or, well, Saskatchewan is in theirs too, but Alberta versus the federal government. A lot of discussion around this in Dubai. Peter McCartney, your thoughts?

Peter: Yeah, I mean, I think it's interesting because on this stage, Danielle Smith is the extremist, not Steven Guilbeault as she accuses. Alberta actually got the fossil of the year award, the first time it's ever been given to a subnational jurisdiction because Alberta is the single worst actor at this conference that the climate action community.

So I think it's hilarious that we're trying to paint these other countries as somehow worse than Canada because they want to expand fossil fuel production.

When Russia and Saudi Arabia and the sultan of the UAE are using the same talking points that Cody is using, because this is the fossil fuel industry defending itself on a global scale at the expense of millions of people who are on the front lines of climate disasters all around the world right now.

Mike: Hey, Cody, what do you say? Just in the interest of time here, Cody, go ahead.

Cody: I mean, Peter's got a good new standup routine going. I mean, Alberta, Canada, is now the only place in the world that's talking about capping production while demand continues to grow. So Peter's talking about Russia and Saudi Arabia. They're going to produce it instead.

We need all energy. We need to have an affordable quality of living for Canadians. We need to support Indigenous communities who are coming out actually saying that this emissions production cap is bad.

We need to continue to invest in wind and solar, nuclear, hydro. We need all of the above. Peter's against almost all of those things. And when we look at human rights, when we look at democracy, when we look at funding war and funding terrorism, and when we look at supporting Canadians in Canada, oil and gas is our largest export. It's a massive contributor to our economy.

Demand is growing. It keeps us alive. It helps our food production. It is multifaceted. And Peter's stand-up routine is not actually pragmatic. It's not balanced. It's not informed. It's just nonsense. And these other countries benefit.

Mike: Okay, Peter, I know you want to respond to that, but let me just fit this in quickly before the break, because I was just wondering what you guys think of the carbon footprint of a massive gathering like this, of over 70,000 delegates gathering in the United Arab Emirates right now.

Some of them flew there in a private jet. And I thought this was hilarious that you got the UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, and also King Charles. They both took their own separate private jets to Dubai. You think they could have done a jet pool or something going the same private jet?

Let's have a listen to King Charles here speaking at COP 28.

King Charles: The earth does not belong to us. We belong to the earth. Some important progress has been made, but it worries me greatly that we remain so dreadfully far off track.

Mike: Okay, Peter, I always sort of roll my eyes when I hear people who have flown there in a private jet sort of lecturing everybody else. But anyway, your thoughts on it?

Peter: Yeah, I mean, I do, too. It's not a good look. But there are global conferences that happen all the time that people fly to. So I think it's just a distraction.

But I think, more importantly, who are you going to listen to about what needs to happen to maintain a safe climate on this planet? Someone who has spent years trying to get good climate policy, or a person who is paid by the fossil fuel industry to be on this show today?

There's just no equivalency between the fossil fuel industry's quote unquote, plan to deal with climate change and what actually the science needs to tell us, which is that a phase out of fossil fuels needs to happen as soon as possible in order to save lives.

Mike: Okay, Cody, go ahead. Yeah.

Cody: Again, I just think we need to be balanced, and Peter is anything but. In fact, Peter's actually adding to the polarization by sharing this misinformed idea that Canada is somehow a laggard.

When you look at the… A lot of what you're saying, Peter, is just not factually accurate, and it's not globally balanced. Canada is a leader in carbon capture and storage. Canada is a leader in reducing emissions... from oil and gas, methane and flaring. Canada is a leader in hydroelectricity, wind and solar investment. Canada is a leader in responsible mining of uranium for nuclear power.

Canada is a leader across the board and blocking Northern Gateway, delaying Trans Mountain, blocking liquefied natural gas exports. Peter's been saying the same thing for a decade. In that time, oil and natural gas demand around the world has grown massively. It continues to grow.

Yes, I'm proud to support the women men, union, non-union, Indigenous, non-Indigenous Canadians across the entire country that work in our responsible resource sector. Capping Canadian natural resource production in a world of robust and growing demand is absolutely nonsense.

Mike: Quick response, Peter. Quick response.

Peter: Let's talk about robust and growing demand. So the International Energy Agency, hardly hippies, says that fossil fuel demand will decline under any of its scenarios this decade and in the 2030s.

Cody: No, they haven't.

Peter: They have said that peak demand will occur in the now. It is happening. So, yes, they have said it for a long time, and it is coming true. And actually it is happening faster than most experts have predicted.

And so oil and gas demand is going to decline this decade. And whether or not that decline is gradual or whether or not it falls off a cliff in the 2030s is going to determine whether we have a safe climate on this planet.

Cody: Why don't you want Canadians to be producing those resources, Peter? As long as the world needs it, why would you not want it to come from Canada?

Peter: Because we're not going to. We have the most expensive oil and gas in the world. And no country is willing to pay a premium for our supposedly better oil and gas.

Mike: Okay.

Cody: The world is asking for Canada to step up and produce and export more.

Mike: It's our great COP 28 debate. Peter McCartney is with me also. Cody Battershill, your calls.

Wayne in Richmond on the open line. Hi, Wayne. Go ahead.

Richmond: Hi, Mike.

Yeah, I disagree with your environmentalist. I mean, China is building a coal plant a week and bringing them online. BBC's quoted Xi Jinping saying, we're not stopping doing that until at least 2026.

If all of that emission since 2015, since the Paris Accords, had been with Canadian liquefied natural gas, this world would not be heating up like it is. And the fact that Alberta won this award and China didn't just speaks to how politically corrupt these idiots at COP 28 are.

And when they meet in Azerbaijan, another oil producing country, in COP 29, it just tells you this is crap. It's a way to get power by a few idiot people.

Mike: Thank you. Peter, is this true that China builds a new coal plant every week? I hear this all the time. Is that correct?

Peter: China is building lots of coal right now. It wouldn't be better if it was building liquefied natural gas from Canada, because as much as a 0.2% leakage rate on that methane makes it worse than coal.

And so this idea that somehow things would be different and the world wouldn't be warming, it would be warming faster because that methane that when it leaks into the atmosphere, warms the climate 86 times faster than carbon dioxide over its lifetime.

Liquefied natural gas is a fossil fuel just like any other fossil fuel, and we need to end the combustion of it as soon as possible.

Cody: Peter wants to end the Canadian... Peter wants to end Canada's production of it so Qatar, the US, Australia, Nigeria, Russia, all these other... ... can produce it instead.

Peter: Let's talk about who is producing…

Cody: Peter loves to talk about the International Governmental Panel of Climate Change. They have said that natural gas electricity generation is 50% better for emissions than coal. Full stop.

Peter: Not on the life cycle...

Cody: There are many Indigenous communities... Peter, it is true. There are many Indigenous communities that are also trying to get themselves out of intergenerational poverty.

Peter is ignoring their wishes. Peter is ignoring the global reality that we must support all Canadian energy.

Mike: Hang on a second. Okay, Cody, thank you for making that point.

Peter, let me give you a chance to respond. So you're saying that, okay, maybe natural gas burns cleaner than coal. I don't think anyone can deny that. But you're saying over the life cycle of production of LNG, it's worse, is that what you're saying?

Peter: Exactly. Over the life cycle. When you take the methane that's leaking into the atmosphere during fracking, transportation processing liquefaction, and the tankers that cross the ocean, gas actually warms the climate faster than coal.

But I also want to talk now. Cody assumes that it's these other countries that are going to be producing. But the majority of the world's fossil fuel expansion is planned in five countries, the US, the UK, Norway, Australia, and Canada.

And so we are actually the bad players here.

Mike: Cody, go ahead.

Cody: I like that you talked about Norway. Norway has said they're going to continue to expand their oil and gas industry while they also invest in other forms of energy. That's the pragmatic approach for Canada, to also support Canadian families, like I said, Indigenous, non-Indigenous communities and support our quality of life.

As long as the world needs a resource that Canadians can produce, common sense dictates that Canada should produce it. Our environmental climate, human rights standards are leading the world despite some of this comedy that Peter's talking.

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