MARK ZACHARIAS AND MERRAN SMITH, in their recent opinion piece, “The fossil-fuel party is raging again, but Canada still needs a plan for the hangover to come” (Globe and Mail, June 14, 2022), they point out that the cyclical nature of the hydrocarbon sector is at a high, but they ominously predict that the cycle will end differently this time, never again to be repeated. This, they imply, is what a Just Transition will deliver.
In case you think green energy radicals are modern day Nostradamus-like fortune-tellers who are merely making slight adjustments to their “mostly correct” predictions, you would only be partly right. Green leftists like these actually have an atrocious record at predicting the future. To compensate for their poor success record on accurate predictions of outcomes, they have been, however, highly successful at snake-oil solution sales to non-existent problems. Particularly, they have sold those false solutions to the gullible, opportunistic, corrupt (choose your adjective) politicians, public servants, and public intellectuals.
Think back to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the price of a barrel of West Texas crude went below $0 as sellers had to pay to get rid of it, and green energy fanatics proclaimed the death of the fossil fuel industry in Canada. Now that energy prices have surged, defying the fanatics’ predictions, they aren’t back-peddling – they never do! Once again, they are simply changing their story, hoping you won’t notice just how wrong they were in the previous round of predictions, and offering you just a new variant of the same snake oil.
Remember the warnings of “global cooling” and the impending “new ice age” back in the 1970s? Then remember that we had the “evidence” of “global warming”? and then, when the science contradicted the erroneous predictions of the green left, they simply “doubled down” on their doomsaying, inventing a new term – “climate change” – to explain away their consistently wrong predictions about “global warming”. They never apologize for their errors. They never explain. They just keep inventing new stories, and they ramp up the rhetoric about imminent collapse.
The same thing happened with their outrageous predictions decades ago that the world was on the verge of completely running out of fossil fuels such as oil and gas, and they instructed us that the world needed simply to accept that the impending age of scarcity and poverty was nigh. With every new discovery of more oil and more natural gas, it became apparent that, no, we weren’t in any such danger.
Once again, the green left ideologues changed their story. If we could no longer create a sense of panic about the disappearance of fossil fuels, then we had terrify people with absurd stories about the consequences of using these very same resources. Oil and gas were destroying the planet, they told us, and if the deposits of these fuels weren’t going to disappear, then it was up to governments to make them disappear, one way or another.
This is what the Trudeau-Singh government means when they say we are pursuing a “just transition.” They mean a “transition” away from Canada’s lucrative and vital exports of oil and gas, to be replaced by….higher prices, job losses, blackouts, and more hardship.
This cyclical high to which Zacharias and Smith refer in their Globe and Mail piece isn’t different because it is some kind of “post nuclear apocalypse Nevil Shute On the Beach moment” as green activists like to pretend – it is different because the current high prices have been orchestrated by very harmful public policy signals, reinforced by bad market decisions, all of which hurt customers.
All resource markets have ups and downs. Normally, when hydrocarbon prices go up, that sends a signal to investors to pour investment into the sector, and they develop more resources.
And Canada has lots and lots of resources to develop.
But investors are not pouring resources into this sector this time. Why not? - because every policy signal from the Trudeau-Singh government is that the federal government is trying to kill the energy sector. So, as prices go up, companies are using the profit to pay down debt and are paying dividends to shareholders. But, this time, in this cycle, energy companies are not reinvesting in more resource development. They are rightly reading the signals from our Liberal-NDP government that no new projects will be permitted, and that the government is trying to kill off the entire industry.
And this is a just transition? Looks like snake oil to me.