At a recent town hall meeting Prime Minister Trudeau commented:
“We can’t shut down the oil sands tomorrow. We need to phase them out. We need to manage the transition off of our dependence on fossil fuels.”
These remarks led to a storm of protest, to which Trudeau responded (apologized?) : “I said something the way I shouldn’t have said it.” To which he added “I misspoke”!
The Prime Minister could have expressed the Federal Government’s position in greater detail, avoiding a negative connotation of “we need to phase them out” – words that to some suggest a result desired by an anti-Western Liberal Government.
Government policy was a consequence of Canada’s commitment at COP Paris 2015 to reduce our GHG emissions, particularly from a dirty and costly source – tar sands bitumen. This reduction goes hand-in-hand with development of renewable energy to lessen dependence on oil,
The highly respected International Energy Agency summarized the situation thusly:
“As a result of major transformations in the global energy system that take place over the next decades, renewables and natural gas are the big winners in the race to meet energy demand growth until 2040 . . ,
Over the past decades the cost of renewable energy has fallen sharply. The projections are that energy from renewables will cost significantly less than energy from fossil fuels. As that happens, the demand for fossil fuels will be much reduced. Fossil fuels that are expensive to extract, such as the tar sands, will no longer be profitable. Fossil fuels companies will supply the residual demand from other sources.
Phasing out of the tar sands is a consequence of competition from other energy sources. That is a market decision.
Phasing out of the tar sands is a consequence of reducing GHG emissions as Canada committed at Paris. A result that is inevitable.
The sooner that Canadians recognize that change is inevitable, the quicker they will adjust. And in the meantime they should not take their anger out on a Prime Minister who candidly explains what lies ahead.