February 28, 2020

Trudeau’s Net Zero Carbon Pledge Threatens Canada

You can be forgiven if you missed the pre-Christmas commitment your government made on your behalf. Back in December, it was announced at the COP25 Climate Summit in Spain that Canada would meet the promise of achieving a “net zero carbon emission” target by 2050. The pledge, made by Canada’s Minister for Environment and Climate Change, committed that the onerous objective would include 5-year timeline objectives once proposed legislation came into effect. 

The past week has been entirely dominated by energy news in Canada. Everything from blockades by a small minority of indigenous groups, opposed to natural pipeline developments and aided by environmental activists and anarchists, to a surprise decision by Teck Resources to save face and abandon its $20 billion Frontier oil mine in Alberta, rather than wait for the Liberal government to further delay or reject its solid proposal, to a ruling by the Alberta Courts which found the Trudeau carbon tax unconstitutional. 

Canadians today are witnesses to an unprecedented divide that pits its indispensable resource sector and its clear benefits for Canada on a collision course with climate emissions caps and a transition to an untested zero-emissions future.

Despite soothing political spin, Canada’s energy intensive economy cannot be reconciled or dovetailed into the “zero carbon by 2050” environmental straightjacket, as neither technology nor practical reality permit such an absurd objective. And consumers, left holding the bag, won’t sign on to arbitrary benchmarks they can neither afford nor accept. 

For most Canadians, without other nations imposing similar strictures on their emissions (notably the U.S., China, Mexico and India) such a lofty undertaking by the Trudeau government and corporations is a non-starter. The Liberal government looked before they leapt to avoid shaming by ENGO’s, and are likely to inflame a growing divide in public opinion and threaten the unity of the nation itself. 

Canadians have good reason to be alarmed that such a poorly thought-out pledge will effectively kill its once globally envied resource sector. In dealing with earlier attempts a re-engineering Canada towards a so-called greener economy, experiments up to now have been a colossal failure. 

British Columbia’s carbon taxes on fuel have forced locals to shop for gas and other goods in neighbouring Washington State, which unlike B.C. has no expensive carbon and associated clean fuel taxes - giving the transport industry there a 33-cent-a-litre advantage over Vancouver. The decade-old Green Energy Plan, imposed on hydro ratepayers in Ontario, has seen electricity costs for consumers as well as small and medium sized business more than double in the decade, transforming a Province that once boasted the cheapest rate and most competitive rates in North America into the continent’s highest. 

Not to be outdone, Ottawa’s initial carbon tax, imposed on several reluctant Provinces over the last year, has been found not to be as advertised insofar as promised revenue neutrality, as inflation and secondary effects (like rising transportation costs) are driving up the general cost of living beyond rebates. Worse, the costs for consumers will inevitably soar to intolerable levels once Ottawa delivers its one-two punch of the soon-to-be-announced Clean Fuel Standard, which will add 8-15 cents a litre to the price at the pumps. 

And a move to increasing carbon taxes to $210 a tonne to meet Trudeau’s 2015 Paris Climate Agreement will see fuels such as gasoline and diesel rise an additional 50 to 60 cents a litre, while families heating with gas or propane will pay an extra $1000 a year. None of this includes the effect such attacks on your wallet will have as these climate taxes drive up the cost of living generally, at the same time driving out business and investments to jurisdictions with less onerous regulations  - and wealthier consumers.

Unmoved by the litany of failed green policy experiments that are hurting consumers and driving away investments in the energy sector, the Trudeau Liberal government - supported by New Democrats, Greens and the avowedly separatist Bloc Quebecois - has pledged carbon neutrality for Canada. This means the end of Canada’s oil and gas industry altogether, unless some new technological advances or breakthroughs happen in the area of carbon storage and sequestration. Up to now, however, the Liberal agreement to attain such a goal is an untested and costly commitment, devoid of a specific plan to achieve it without courting economic collapse and social or political fragmentation.

In the absence of a roadmap, Liberals mused that their commitment, without the means to achieve such an arbitrary goal, could draw on the notion of total electrification of the Canadian economy. But reality seems to provide serious challenges to such a lofty, untested proposal. 

Setting aside the fact that most electricity produced in Canada is already non-fossil fuel based, emissions-free sources, with 82% currently supplied by hydro and nuclear, it’s hard to imagine any alternative that could replicate the reliability and cost effectiveness of the current advanced electrical power infrastructure. 

Renewables, the default offering of those unfamiliar with the effect their introduction has had on Ontario hydro ratepayers, have a proven track record of being both costly and unreliable. Without effective means of storage, both solar and wind generation fall short of providing stable supply for a nation that could well have a population of over 45 million by 2050. 

Worse, the means of transmitting electricity will require a dramatic reinvestment in infrastructure that would, with the cost of retrofitting buildings and homes, place costs into the multi-trillions of dollars. If, for example, New Zealand’s similar promise of achieving zero emissions in 30 years could cost that country an estimated 2-3 trillion dollars, it should come as no surprise that, according to a recent study by the Global Warming Policy Foundation in Britain, such a move will cost every household approximately $200,000, or $6 trillion in Canadian terms.

Placing all Canada’s eggs in one electric only energy basket also runs risks that ironically, should be obvious to climate alarmists, who use every incident of inclement weather as proof positive of the effects of man-made greenhouse gases causing weather disturbances, like ice storms and high winds. 

If last summer’s hurricanes in Nova Scotia weren’t enough to prove that electric towers were no match for high winds, eastern Canada has had several ice storms, including one in Quebec in December which knocked out power to millions for a period of a few days - a problem that was mitigated by the availability of natural gas and propane.

Lacking leadership and vision, the Liberal government allowed itself to be pressured into committing to something without a plan, just to achieve an outcome fraught with unknown consequences. By the stroke of a pen, Trudeau almost totally ignored cutting edge work done by this nation to date, as well as ongoing proven efforts in building a clean energy infrastructure that are second to none. 

In discounting the Canadian miracle of its energy diversity and ground-breaking energy related innovations, the Prime Minister recklessly placed the country on a path fraught with uncertainty that is sure to be economically perilous, prohibitively costly, and threatening to the very unity of the nation.     

The sky is not falling, and Canadians should know better than excuse its government from adopting pie-in-the-sky policies.