If Canada's natural resources sector was a professional boxer, it would without a doubt be classified as a super heavyweight. The World Atlas seems to agree, listing Canada in the top five global nations endowed with the most natural resources by volume and worth.
Truth is that Canada has been punching above its weight on producing and exporting natural resources for many years. Take, for example, that our country is the:
- 4th largest producer and exporter of crude oil in the world
- 4th largest producer and 6th largest exporter of natural gas
- 6th largest producer of primary energy
- 6th largest producer and 3rd largest exporter of electricity
7th largest producer of renewable energy, including:
- 4th largest hydropower producer (2020)
- 8th largest wind power producer (2019)
- 9th largest biofuel producer (2018)
- 4th largest hydropower producer (2020)
- A top 5 producer of more than 17 minerals and metals such as uranium, potash and diamonds
- A top 5 global producer and exporter of several agricultural products such as canola, oats, maple syrup, blueberries and pork
- A top 10 global producer and exporter of several forestry products including softwood lumber, wood pellets and oriented strand board
Canada has many of the natural resources needed to supplement modern-day technologies and processes. And we are one of the best when it comes to extracting and producing these resources using the most environmentally responsible methods available.
Hence, we should always be striving to supply the world with more Canadian resources, especially given the future outlook of rising demand for minerals and metals, all forms of energy (including oil and gas), and everything else in between.
Demand for Natural Resources is Rising
Every day we use or interact with an unlimited number of products and services made possible by natural resources in some way or another. Many of these, such as energy, for example, contribute to social progress and development and are in ever-increasing demand in developing nations looking to raise the standard of living for their populations.
Canada is blessed to have an abundance of several of these natural resources. As a result, we have a leadership role in the international community to produce these resources sustainably and uptake as much global market share as possible, benefitting Canadian governments and families in the process. We also have a grand opportunity and an inherent responsibility to be leaders in advancing social and economic progress worldwide while simultaneously safeguarding our planet.
Recent cultural trends around the globe have reflected an awakening in people's attitudes towards sustainability. People are becoming increasingly conscious of our decision's impact on the world around us, and that's a good thing!
These trends are finding their way into the board rooms of some of the world's most influential companies and organizations. More and more, our private and public sector leaders are being held accountable for their decisions. The world needs bold action to address significant problems such as climate change which will affect our future generations, and everyone knows it.
The world is demanding more environmental action AND more resources. Canada's role as a major global producer of natural resources and environmental leader is exactly why we should be a supplier of choice for oil, natural gas, minerals, metals, agricultural and forestry products, and everything in between.
Here are five examples showing how Canada's natural resource sector is world-class and why we should be a global supplier of choice for all of the above.
#1- Canada is a Renewable Energy Powerhouse
Did you know that Canada is one of the largest electricity producers on Earth, and about two-thirds of our power comes from renewable sources!?
Canada exports about 8 per cent of its electricity generation each year to buyers in the U.S. Because most of Canada's power is generated via hydro, wind, solar and biofuels, this prevents the release of millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year by displacing higher GHG-intensive forms of generation in states such as California, Maine and New York.
Canada is doing such a great job of producing renewable energy while continuing to expand its overall capacity. Between 2010 and 2018, for example, renewable energy production in Canada increased by 16 per cent, with wind and solar seeing the largest growth.
Canada's continued leadership in renewable energy stands to benefit Canadians and the global environment in the years to come.
#2- Canada's Oil & Gas Sector Leads the Way in Environmental Innovation
Anti-development oil and gas activists in Canada often unfairly target our world-class sector, spreading misinformation while engaging in unbalanced conversations. However, the truth of the matter is that our oil and gas producers are among the most environmentally conscious in the world!
For example, it is not well known that disturbed land in Alberta's oil sands must be 100 per cent reclaimed to its original state. Before any work, a thorough environmental assessment of potentially impacted lands is performed, and the government ensures that these lands are fully restored after operations cease.
Going further, our oil producers recognize the importance of furthering emissions reductions in a new global investor climate that focusses heavily on environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance. That is why the industry is a proactive partner in the goal of net-zero by 2050, and has made significant progress in reducing emissions. For example, the emissions intensity of each barrel produced in the oil sands has decreased 36 per cent in recent years.
Canada's oil producers are taking every step necessary to ensure that our products are a sustainable option for the world's energy needs.
#3 - Canadian Forestry Sector is Leading by Example
As stewards of one of the largest forests in the world - the Boreal Forest - Canadians have an important role to play in protecting our planet's natural habitats. We have stepped up to the challenge in a big way.
We are one of the largest global producers and exporters of several forestry products such as softwood lumber, hardwood lumber and oriented strand board. We do our best to ensure our forests are harvested sustainably. Take, for example, that about 50 per cent of Canada's forests are certified to third-party standards of sustainable forest management. Now that's world-class, and unheard of in most other major forestry nations!
If we are to continue meeting the world's demand for forestry products, some level of human activity in our forests will certainly be unavoidable. Therefore it is imperative to understand and support our forestry sector's commitment to sustainable practices. In Canada, all forested areas to be harvested must be first accompanied by a rigorous regeneration plan. In addition, about 600 million seedlings are planted each year nationwide through a well-organized supply chain and extensive physical labour.
Let's not forget that between 2005 and 2015, Canada's forestry sector reduced its total GHG emissions by 49 per cent. This was accomplished mainly by switching over to renewable sources for power generation.
When our trading partners choose to import our forestry products, they support the exceptional environmental protections and sustainability practices we are proud to perform.
#4 - Canada's Mining Sector Has Set a New Global Standard
As global miners look to improve their impact on local communities and the environment, Canada's mining industry has already set the bar for other nations to meet.
In 2004, the Mining Association of Canada launched the Towards Sustainable Mining initiative, a globally recognized sustainability standard that is helping the mining sector build up capacity in a world that's ever increasingly focussed on ESG performance.
Today, TSM is being used as a comprehensive framework for other countries to learn from. In recent years, the program's standards have more or less been adopted by Spain, Finland, Norway, Botswana, Argentina, Brazil, Australia and the Philippines.
Given Canada's prowess as a global mining leader with world-class ESG standards, it's clear why our country should be a supplier of choice for the minerals and metals found within our borders.
#5 - Canadian LNG Has World-Class Emissions
Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is an excellent example of how Canada's resources can make a big difference in the world. Many of our trading partners like China are looking to reduce their GHG emissions, while their energy demand is increasing simultaneously.
LNG Canada, for example, will be the lowest GHG-intensive facility of its kind in the world, undercutting the emissions profiles of the next best considerably. Ksi Lisims LNG, an Indigenous-led project in Nisga'a Nation territory, has committed to operating with a net-zero emissions profile within three years after cooling its first shipment of natural gas.
And whoever said that Canadian LNG would do nothing to lower global emissions isn't being honest with you.
A recent collaborative study performed by three independent research groups at Stanford University, the University of British Columbia, and the University of Calgary found that Canadian LNG to China for power and heat generation, when compared with coal, could accomplish a 34% to 62% reduction in CO2 emissions per unit of electricity generated.
Canada is fortunate to have massive potential as an LNG exporter, and we should be doing everything we can to encourage our trading partners to switch from coal to natural gas wherever possible.
The World Needs More Canadian Resources
Canada is home to a vast wealth of natural resources which are produced using some of the most sustainable methods found anywhere on the planet.
In a world that's increasingly focussed on ESG and sustainable supply chains, it only makes sense that Canada is a global supplier of choice for all of the above, whether it be oil and gas, minerals and metals, forestry and agricultural products, or something in between.
As a major reserve holder of these resources and a global ESG leader, Canada has an inherent responsibility to provide a growing world with the raw materials and goods it needs.
Millions of Canadians count on natural resources to provide for their families, our governments overwhelmingly rely on the revenues they generate, and the global environment is just better off with more of our resources on the market.
So, we must continue to punch above our weight and live out our destiny as a major global producer and exporter of natural resources for the sake of our country and the world!
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Do you want to know more about Canadian resources? Join us to engage in balanced and fact-based discussions around oil, natural gas, nuclear, renewables, forestry, agriculture, mining and everything in between at Canada Action on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook today! Hope to see you there!
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