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Climate Plan Must be Paired with a Focus on Competitiveness

Cody Battershill

Some months have an intensity all their own. These last several weeks of domestic and international developments in natural resources prove the point beyond any doubt.

The federal government recently released its climate plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent or more by the end of the decade and, as predicted, its details place a huge burden on the energy sector and, to a lesser extent, other natural resources like forestry, mining and agriculture.

Canada’s climate plan comes at a time of high inflation, a fear of rising interest rates, the tail end of a crippling pandemic and a brutal war in Europe that sees more European customers from Berlin to Brussels signalling their interest in blocking Russian energy purchases in a bid to find more progressive sources of supply.

How are these events – Canada’s climate plan, a tough economy and a war in Europe – related?

After dozens of explicit statements from the International Energy Agency and similar groups, it’s clear the global economy will need fossil fuels for decades for heating, transportation, electricity, healthcare and common products like computers, cosmetics, plastics and household appliances. They form a huge part of our lives.

But Canadians are to take climate mitigation seriously – and generally they do – then it’s reasonable for the government’s climate plan to roll out while Canada pushes harder on competitiveness.

In other words, Canada’s public and private sector research and development organizations are making huge advancements in carbon emissions reductions and other mitigating technologies across natural resource sectors. And that, in turn, advances Canadian trade. But it doesn’t happen by itself.

As Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said recently on the topic of producing oil and gas while also pushing wind and solar and managing emissions, “We can walk and chew gum at the same time.”

Minister Wilkinson was making the point that Canadians are perfectly able to support both oil and gas and new, clean tech. Why shouldn’t international customers be encouraged to do business with reliable, progressive, transparent suppliers like ours?

And yet Hollywood celebrities campaign against Canadian natural resources while failing to make the link to the alleviation of systemic Indigenous poverty.

Many Indigenous leaders are well-prepared to do it for them, as Haisla Nation Chief Councillor Crystal Smith did recently in response to another ill-informed onslaught by Hollywood stars:

“…If they succeed in stopping these projects they will be stopping the hopes and aspirations of thousands of B.C. Aboriginal people for a future free from unemployment, welfare, hopelessness and despair.”

Always remember: Blocking Canadian pipelines has never kept a single barrel of oil in the ground. Another likely less progressive supplier always picks up the slack.

Is there a country more deserving of sustainable investment than Canada? Not that I can think of!

Cody Battershill is a Calgary realtor and founder / spokesperson for CanadaAction.ca, a volunteer-initiated group that supports Canadian natural resources sector and the environmental, social and economic benefits that come with it.