Supply vs Demand for Energy - what is the real problem?

Blame it on Alberta

By: Richard Bronstein

March 2016 – Business In Calgary

After the Paris conference in December 2015 tolled the bells for climate change, pilgrims from around the world have begun the march. And nobody wants to reach the New Jerusalem of saving the planet more than me.

But we have to produce more than idle chatter and sentimental thinking.

We need a raft of serious policies, plans and actions. B.C., Ontario, Quebec, and finally Alberta, are making a start. But the federal government has been missing in action for over two decades. Primes Minister Chretien did nothing, Prime Minister Harper did nothing and now it is left to Prime Minister Trudeau to stick his finger in the dike.

On good days I think Trudeau is a consensus builder and that’s probably the right way to go about it. On bad days I worry that our new prime minister is a ditherer. We’ll just have to wait and see.

But of all the things we have to get right in order to move forward, the most important is to separate reality form daydreams.

This is wishful thinking at its worst.

The fact is that in 2015 manufacturers sold 1,898,485 new cars, trucks and utility vehicles in Canada. This is an all-time record. The previous sales record was set in 2014, and the record before that was in 2013.

How can Canadians say they don’t want oil production and they don’t want pipelines, but they buy a record number of new automobiles? I guess we need federal ads to explain to people that cars run on gasoline, which comes from refined crude oil.

Even more contradictory evidence comes from Canada’s National Energy Board (NEB) which calculated in a recent forecast what we will consume more total energy in the year 2040, including carbon fuels, than we do today. That means essentially that all the windmills and solar panels we install will be used to produce extra energy and not significantly replace carbon fuels. The NEB also says that even if we don’t build any new pipelines in Canada, oil will be used in the future even more than it is today.

The most dangerous thing we can do is believe in the Prohibition Fallacy. It states that if you stop the supply of booze, society will be sober and more righteous. Well, we know that never happened. We also know the War on Drugs doesn’t work. Neither does the War on Terror.

There will be a steady supply of reasonably-priced oil for many years and it will be used for a long time to come.

Blaming Canadian GHG’s on oil production and pipelines reeks of anti-Albertanism; it is not a solution. The real solution is to figure out ways to reduce consumption, and production will surely fall.


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