At crisis time, Canada is boxed in by its energy policy tunnel-vision
The world is currently facing simultaneous energy and climate crises. There is considerable scientific
consensus that the impacts of a changing climate are having significant human costs as well as adverse
impacts on biodiversity. And broad agreement exists that we must put in place strong measures to
mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change. At the same time, some climate policy responses have
had significant negative effects on energy security, threatening the global economic recovery from
the COVID-19 pandemic and putting out future economic security at risk.
Sadly, the pace, logistics, and costs of the transition from fossil fuels to low or zero carbon sources of
energy are still hotly debated. This is because reliable and affordable energy is fundamental to
our modern economic, political, and social systems, as well as to human well-being, and fossil fuels
are still the most reliable and affordable sources of that energy. Energy transitions take decades and
there are no quick and easy replacements for fossil fuels, meaning that even the most optimistic
scenarios for an energy transition still see coal, oil, and natural gas providing a majority of the world's
energy supply for at least the next decade.
Canada's energy and climate policy debate has become removed from the practical considerations.
Ottawa has often assumed a moralizing stance in this debate and shown itself to be willing to ignore
practical energy realities for the sake of appealing to certain political constituencies. Thus the
debate has become polarized and energy security has suffered as a result. Simply put, the current
tension between energy security and climate is not sustainable.
As the holder of the some of the world's largest reserves of oil and gas, along with world class deposits
of many critical minerals needed for the energy transition, Canada is well-positioned to meet the energy
needs of our allies and partners. If Canada does not act to export its resources to hungry markets abroad,
it will be ceding those opportunities to countries like Russia, Venezuela, and those in the Middle East,
which will use their greater market share and leverage over global energy supplies to gain economic and
Canadians live comfortable lives and have almost unprecedented access to affordable clean energy.
It is easy to believe that if we can speed up the energy transition and quickly-zero emission, so can everyone
else. This is mistaken. Many other countries that do not have sufficient domestic energy supplies or
suitable conditions for renewable energy are concluding that the uncertain impacts of aggressive climate
change policies are less threatening than the known consequences of a chaotic energy transition. Canada's
response should acknowledge this reality. We ignore an energy crisis in favour of the climate crisis at our peril.
Canada should leverage its position as a stable, reliable, and environmentally responsible supplier of energy
resources to the world throughout the transition. Indeed, we will soon be well positioned to contribute meaningfully
to global energy security and the energy security of key partners and allies in the Indo-Pacific and elsewhere.
Once completed, the TMX pipeline expansion and LNG export terminals will allow Canada to ship oil and gas to
buyers in Asia who are increasingly concerned about their energy security in a more uncertain and turbulent
geopolitical environment. Importantly, Canada's west coast terminals are closer to the Indo-Pacific than other
major shipping ports in North America and our sea lanes to Northeast Asia uncontested and safe.
None of this is to deny the urgent need to pursue strong climate policies and a sustainable energy
transition do so in a responsible way. Yes, there are health, environmental, and social risks associated with
climate change. But equally there energy transition.
Canada must act fast to remove impediments to energy investment, capacity at a time when geopolitics
is upending global energy markets and demand and supply are becoming unbalanced. Stable, secure and
affordable energy supplies are vital to human well-being and economic development. Canada has the capacity
to play a role in ensuring the energy transition occurs in a way that does not create unnecessary economic hardship,
foment inequality and civil unrest, or threaten global energy security.
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