DEBATE: Should Canadian Energy Be a Part of the UN’s Climate Change Conference?

COP27 Debate - Canada Action vs Wilderness Committee - Should Canadian energy reps be at COP27

Canada’s delegation to the United Nation’s COP27 climate change conference in Egypt includes several representatives from the oil sands industry, which is attracting intense criticism from anti-Canadian oil and gas opponents.

These activists are suggesting that the very industry responsible for a large share of Canada’s emissions should not be at an event dedicated to climate change. However, some Canadian government officials are dismissing that notion, arguing that Canada won’t meet its climate goals without collaborating with the energy sector.

The question remains: should Canadian oil and gas representatives be a part of the UN’s climate change conference COP27, and perhaps at more events in the future?

Mike Smyth, host of The Mike Smyth Show on 980 CKNW, joins Cody Battershill, Chief Spokesperson of Canada Action, to discuss Canadian energy’s presence at COP27 and our nation’s evolving role in global energy security and climate action.

LISTEN TO THE DISCUSSION HERE

Or, keep reading for everything said between Cody, Mike, and Peter of the Wilderness Committee and also be sure to check out some of our other radio events below:

Should Canadian Oil & Gas Representatives be at COP27?

 

DEBATE TRANSCRIPT:

This is The Mike Smith Show.

Mike: Alright, here we go now with Cop 27, the UN Climate Change conference currently underway in Egypt, and Canada has a large delegation there. It includes representatives of Canada's oil and gas sector.

As a matter of fact, there is a large number of oil and gas reps at the UN Climate Change conference right now. Canada, a very large part of that delegation.

Some environmentalists are angry about that, saying that these big oil and gas companies, including representatives of Alberta's oil sands, you shouldn't be at a climate change conference. They actually staged a walkout last week at one of the panels put on by Canada at the UN Climate Change Conference in Egypt.

Got an awesome panel standing by to discuss these issues here for you. Have a listen to this report right now here from Global News reporter, Eric Sorenson.

Global News: Among the thousands of delegates are more than 600 representatives from oil and gas. A big jump from last year according to environmental groups. And it's evidence, they say, that oil and gas lobbyists have too much influence. Some are part of Canada's 300-plus delegation.

It would be easier to see the oil and gas industry playing a constructive role if they hadn't fought every domestic policy coming their way.

Mike: All right, let's discuss this now with our panel. We got both sides of it for you.

Cody Battershill is the founder of the pro oil sands advocacy group, Canada Action. I'm very pleased to welcome him back here. Cody?

Cody: Hey Mike, thanks for having me.

Mike: Thank you for coming on.

Once again, Peter McCartney is a climate campaigner at the Wilderness Committee, and I'm very pleased to welcome Peter back to the show as well. Peter, thank you for coming on.

Peter: Thank you, Mike. Pleasure to be here.

Mike: Okay, gentlemen, thank you to both of you.

Peter McCartney, let me go to you first. What do you think of oil and gas representatives, including oil sands reps from Alberta at the UN Climate Change Conference in Egypt right now?

I mean, they say they're there because they're trying to reduce emissions and lower emissions over time. So don't they have a role there or do you think they should stay away?

Peter: Oh, it's wildly inappropriate to have the industry that has caused climate change be part of the negotiations and trying to reduce emissions. It's a bit like having, negotiating a peace deal with arms dealers at the table.

And the fossil fuel industry has more delegates at COP than any country in the world. They have more delegates than the ten most climate-vulnerable countries combined.

And so it's no wonder that these climate negotiations continue to be stalled and delayed. When you have some of the most polluting companies in the world running defence during the negotiations, it's completely unacceptable.

And that Canada is actually including these companies in its delegation. I think it just goes to show you the level of power and influence these companies have over the very people that are supposed to be regulating them.

Mike: Cody Battershill, what do you say to that?

 

Cody: I mean, first and foremost, almost 80% of the world's energy is fossil fuels. Currently, wind and solar is about 2%.

We need all of the above, and that means we need to be pragmatic. So we need to have everyone at the table to have an honest conversation about how human beings today live, including Peter, including everyone who walked out, everyone that got to COP 27, took a plane, took a method of transportation that was powered by fossil fuels.

And in Canada, when we talk about the facts, we get away from the rhetoric and the misleading information, we are leading on reducing emissions.

Carbon capture is a huge part of the solution, according to the IEA, people like Bill Gates, we have such a track record to be proud of as Canadians with our commitment to protecting the environment, energy security, and the economy.

So we need to really be all at the table and be pragmatic about this. Walking out is ridiculous. It's immature, it's irresponsible, and it doesn't advance working together to find real solutions, to keep the lights on, keep our quality of life as it is, and to move things forward.

Mike: Okay, Peter, what do you say to that? Like, if you had been on the ground there in Egypt at the UN Climate Change Conference, I imagine you'd be one of the people who would have walked out on that oil and gas panel.

Peter: Absolutely I would have walked out, because you can say, oh, we need all of the above all you want Cody, but the truth is, the scientists and the experts are telling us, from the International Energy Agency all the way to the UN Environment Program, are telling us that we cannot invest in more fossil fuels and expect it to reduce climate change.

Catherine McKenna, the former Minister of the Environment for Canada, who ran off with a lot of the oil and gas companies that are at this conference, is now working for the UN Secretary General with a high level expert group. They came out and said, net zero means no new fossil fuels.

You cannot claim to be dedicated to net zero and actively pursuing it if you are investing in more coal, oil and gas. And so I'm glad the greenwashing is finally being called out from these companies because Canada is doing abysmally on this.

We are floating carbon capture as a misdirection to prolong our reliance on fossil fuels when everywhere else in the world understands that the way that you solve climate change is you eliminate the product that is causing it.

Mike: Cody.

 

Cody: Well, the IEA has said there's not going to be I mean, the IEA has said we need carbon capture and we also need to keep investing in oil and gas. Peter's rhetoric is only helping countries like Saudi Arabia and Russia.

We see what's happening in Ukraine. We need to be honest. We are going to need carbon capture. We need to talk about Canada's record.

Look at LNG. We can export LNG to Asia, reduce global emissions. That's what these climate activists are talking about. So why are they opposing the innovation, the technology, the collaboration that we're doing in Canada? Why are they so against Canadian resources?

We have the highest standards for human rights, social progress and environmental climate protection along with Indigenous ownership and participation.

It is ridiculous.

Mike: Peter, what do you say?

Peter: Because it's not true. LNG cannot reduce worldwide emissions. It is a fossil fuel. And you do not reduce emissions by locking in decades more pollution, building a brand new fossil fuel facility.

 If we want to reduce emissions, it's very clear, and the International Energy Agency agrees on this, and it's that zero scenario and two out of three of its scenarios that included any new policies on climate change, the most likely ones happen.

They said that oil and gas demand has to peak this decade.  So we cannot keep investing in projects that would last for 50 years when we know that they're going to have to be shut down before the end of their useful life.

Mike: Hey Peter, I think you would agree, like, if we found some common ground between the two of you guys. If the goal is to reduce emissions, I think you could both agree on that.

But you can't turn the tap on overnight. It's not like a light switch where you can just throw the switch and we never use fossil fuels again forever. Right? I mean, you've already acknowledged that, I believe, on the show in the past. You can't do this overnight. You can't turn off a switch.

So therefore, if we accept that fossil fuel use is going to continue into the future, does it not make sense that the sector should be at the table to try and talk about ways that the industry can continue while lowering emissions or emission intensity?

What are your thoughts?

Peter: Okay, you cannot turn off a switch overnight, but the UN Environment Program tells us that next year we have to be burning 3% less gas than this year and 3% the year after that and the year after that.

And so having companies at the table whose only priority is that their business model continues for decades to come, when the scientists are telling us that that will only make these climate disasters that we are seeing in British Columbia and around the world only get worse having them at the table while at the same time they're back home, through the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, lobbying against every effort to reduce emissions.

I cannot believe that there is anyone in this country that thinks that that's a pragmatic thing and we should just continue to move forward.

Mike: Okay, Cody, quick response and we'll put a break in here. Go ahead.

 

Cody: I mean, Canada represents like 40% of global oil production with carbon pricing. Alberta was the first jurisdiction in North America with carbon pricing in 2007. Our record speaks for itself when it's not, when people aren't misled.

We are going to have to have an honest conversation at some point. I hope we can get there because we are going to need all of the above.

Albert is a massive investor in wind and solar energy industry, is the largest investor in the country in clean technology and environmental protection. The energy industry's focus is supporting Indigenous communities, supporting all Canadians through government revenues and taxes, supporting jobs, local communities and charitable and other programs and providing the energy we're all using.

Everyone who went to COP flew on a plane. We still need oil and gas. It's obvious. It's simple.

We also need to continue advancing other forms of energy and carbon capture and storage. Canada is a leader. We've got about 15% of global major facilities. We're a first mover. We need we need all of the above.

Mike: Okay, Peter, I know you want to respond, but let me fit the break in here, which we must do and then we will come back with more.

Cody Battershill, Peter McCartney are my guests. We're talking about COP 27, the UN Climate Change conference underway in Egypt. It includes hundreds of representatives of the oil and gas sector, including from the Alberta oil and gas industry and the oil sands.

Do you think it's appropriate that they're there? Peter says they should not be there. Cody says they should phone me and have your say.

604-280-9898 is the number to call. 604-280-9898 star 98 98 in your cell.

This is Mike Smith back with your calls and more after this.

Mike: All right, talking about the UN Climate Change Conference, there is a large contingent of oil and gas companies there this year, including companies based in Canada.

Cody Battershill, Peter McCartney are my guests on this one, both sides of it, Dan and Victoria. Hi, Dan. Go ahead.

Dan: Hi. What I'm going to say is there's going to be a transition. It's inevitable, it's going to happen.

But you know, I have friends in Germany and your environmental friend here, Peter, or whatever his name is, I would like you to go to Germany where they are suffering. They are closing down nuclear power plants, they're closing down wind farms, they're opening up coal-fired plants.

My friends tell me that people are in a mad panic for firewood. I don't know what the reality you live in, but it's not the reality that the rest of us live in. And I do not have any faith in the UN, which is telling us that's, been telling us for 40 years that the world is coming to an end.

Mike: Okay, Peter, go ahead and respond to them.

Peter: The reality that I live in is that over 600 British Columbians died in climate disasters last year and they are getting worse and will continue to get worse because we continue to burn coal, oil and gas.

I work with German LNG campaigners all the time and I'm glad to see that the long-term strategy for the European Union is to double down on renewable energy and it's going to be a tough winter, but no gas company in Canada can do anything about that for the German people.

But what we do know is that gas production, gas demand has to fall 3% year over year until 2030 for us to maintain a safe climate on this planet.

Mike: Cody Battershill,

 

Cody: Campaigners say to act on climate and then Canada reduces emissions per barrel and sends up a satellite to track what we're doing and works together and comes to be a part of the conversation and then they walk out. They walk out on them.

It's so immature. It's not professional. It's not conducive to actually reducing emissions. It doesn't matter how we reduce emissions, does it? We want to reduce emissions. Carbon capture is a key part of that.

Look at what's happening in Africa. African countries are at COP 27 telling the conference we need fossil fuels to get our citizens out of poverty and there's a lot of that aligned with what the caller just talked about.

We've been hearing Peter say the same thing for years and years and years and yet LNG will reduce coal emissions but he doesn't support it.

Mike: What do you say to his argument that gas consumption has to go down 3% a year. Is that possible?

Cody: It's not happening. LNG demand is going to grow up to 100% in the next 25-30 years. People are getting off of coal which reduces emissions to use natural gas, and in Canada we can carbon capture and do other emissions reductions to continue our leadership.

All Canadians should be proud and hold our heads high of our industry. Walking out is immature and not moving anything forward.

Mike: Peter, go ahead.

Peter: Let's be clear about what Cody is saying when he says that reducing demand in line with 1.5 degrees Celsius is impossible. He is saying that the climate will continue to warm past the level that the entire world agrees is safe and we will continue to see record wildfires, floods, droughts and gas demand can't continue in that scenario because the economy will fall apart.

Fracking companies already had to halt their drilling because of the drought in British Columbia. So I don't understand how fossil fuel boosters think that we're just going to continue on drilling for oil and gas and supplying this growing economy in a world that is coming apart at the seams because the climate that we have grown in for thousands of years no longer exists.

Mike: Okay, let's see.

Cody: I would love to know what you would tell the leaders of the African countries who need to get their people out of poverty...

Peter: I would tell them ... and not via continuing to increase oil and gas exploration in some of the very countries where people are most at risk from climate change.

Listen to the people of their countries because there are activists from every African country at COP 27 begging them to do better.

Mike: Okay, let's squeeze in one more call.

Cody: The leaders of those countries would differ.

Mike: Brian. I'm running out of time. Brian, you got to go quick.

Brian: I just want to say Peter's wrong.  The problem is not reducing product.

We should be reducing demand and we can't reduce demand until we change the way our city and society functions.

If you're centralized around the car with individual houses, with individual heaters in every house, we're going to need all this power.

Mike: Okay, Peter, 30 seconds left. Peter, go ahead. Brief response, please.

Peter: When you build a brand new fossil fuel infrastructure you are locking in decades more pollution. It will continue to be used until the end of its usable life and that is why we have to stop building this new fossil fuel infrastructure that we know is causing the climate disasters we are seeing all over the world.

Mike: Okay, you got the last word. Thank you, Peter McCartney.

I want to thank both of our panellists. There, Peter McCartney from the Wilderness Committee. Cody Battershill, Canada. Action.

Thank you for another great discussion.

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