Some Canadians have been told they have to support either climate action or Canada’s oil and gas sector – but not both. Others are more interested in assessing available information in an open-minded way, and then making a reasonable judgment based on what they’ve learned.
It won’t surprise you to learn that I see myself very much as a member of that second group. Even more important, I’m one of a growing group that thinks Canada’s strong record on climate action is fully consistent with our global leadership in oil and gas production. Here’s how I arrive at that point of view.
First, each of us has a responsibility to engage in balanced, fact-based and constructive discussions, and then govern ourselves accordingly. When it comes to discussing the role responsibly produced Canadian oil and gas can play in advancing environmental innovation around the world, I think it’s especially true that we take a responsible approach.
Canadian Energy is in the World’s Best Interests
It’s obvious that an informed discussion beats an ill-informed one. And it’s also true that a constructive conversation focussed on improving peoples’ lives is far better than one aimed at opposing energy projects.
So, when I tell people that Canada’s energy resources are in the best interests of the planet, I’m reflecting several years of my own journey in which I educated myself about the sector’s record on continuous environmental improvement, job creation, Indigenous reconciliation, community support, tax contributions toward public programs and other important benefits.
What I found was striking. Canada’s global energy leadership is deep. It extends from clean technology, environmental innovation and renewable power generation to emission intensity reductions, carbon capture, and carbon pricing initiatives.
Examples of Climate Action by Canada’s Oil & Gas Sector
Let me provide some examples to drive the point home, and convince you that nobody needs to choose between Canadian energy resources and climate action. We really can have both. In short, these facts help illustrate why Canada should be a country of choice for both energy investment and supply.
> Oil and gas demand will continue to grow for decades and will remain fundamental to our global energy mix, according to the International Energy Agency. The IEA estimates the world will need between $12 - $17 trillion of additional investment in oil and gas by 2040 to avoid supply shortages, and that demand for liquefied natural gas will double in that same time frame. Shouldn’t the world’s energy supply come from producers who implement the highest environmental standards in the world, as Canada does?
> Canada is one of the world’s few oil-producing nations where detailed disclosures are publicly available on climate and environmental-related risks, and where government-led initiatives push energy companies to refine reporting consistency and transparency.
> Of the world’s top 20 oil producers, Canada ranks second on both the Social Progress Index (‘S’ in ESG) and the World Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicators (‘G’ in ESG), and fourth on the Yale / Columbia Environmental Performance Index (‘E’ in ESG).
> Of the world’s top 15 oil reserve holders, Canada ranks first on all three of the aforementioned indexes. We're the seventh largest producer of renewable energy in the world, home to one of the world’s only oil producers that’s net negative for upstream carbon emissions, and we source about 82 per cent of our electricity from non-emission sources.
> The Alberta Carbon Trunk Line (ACTL) is the world’s largest capacity pipeline for carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from human activity, and our oil sands producers have reduced their emissions per barrel by 36 per cent from 2000 to 2018.
> Since 2011, upstream oil sands emissions intensities have decreased by 22 per cent, and by 2030, upstream oil sands GHG emissions intensities are projected to drop by 30 per cent below 2009 levels as a result of continued focus on moving towards cleaner, and more efficient extractive and production processes.
> Canada is home to the largest collaborative effort among competing independent companies to share intellectual property and scientific-based best practices around improving environmental leadership.
Canadian Energy and Climate Action are Not Mutually Exclusive
It’s through reasonable, balanced and constructive discussions in Canada, backed up with reliable, useful information that all of us will realize we don’t need to choose between Canadian energy and climate action; we can – and do -- have both.
In Parts 2 and 3 of this series, I’ll build on this list of Canadian energy accomplishments, and drive home the following point: global demand for oil and gas will exist for decades to come. Canada’s climate action and environmental leadership on energy both deserve a second, more positive look. And we should be global energy suppliers of choice.
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