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World Energy Crisis Points to Key Canadian Role

Cody Battershill

Over the past several months, parts of Europe and Asia have been in the grips of a catastrophic energy crisis that’s already pumped up consumer prices on everything from manufactured goods to agricultural products to home heating.

Canada, with its world-leading sustainability commitments, could play a key role in increasing our supply of safe and reliable oil and gas to an energy-strapped world.

And the global need couldn’t be greater.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) says December and January energy demand in the U.S. is at all-time high, above the 2019 pre-pandemic seasonal levels.

Citigroup Inc. reports that Europeans can expect the biggest energy bills in a decade as huge hikes in natural gas and power prices hit homes and factories and the region’s total primary energy bill is set to hit about $1 trillion, compared with about $300 billion last year.

Further, several banks have forecast oil prices of $100 a barrel later this year, with demand expected to outstrip supply, thanks in part to OPEC’s limited capacity.

These supply challenges are occurring in the context of a dangerous standoff between Moscow and the West over Ukraine. Russia, don’t forget, supplies 40 per cent or more of the European bloc’s natural gas.

The impacts of these growing shortages extend to heating and powering everything from housing to transport, running big industrial plants that will help reduce carbon emissions to providing the feed stocks for healthcare-destined plastics, communications components and farm-related fertilizers.

All of this will require tough – in fact very painful – choices for those European consumers who are in the throes of the crisis.

Some commentators suggest the current energy crisis might be worse than the infamous 1970s oil price shock. Soaring prices are threatening to leave millions of European households unable to pay their bills, forcing politicians from several countries to step in.

Dwindling reserves, a lack of capacity among OPEC members, the sluggish restart after two years of COVID-related halted production, weather challenges and political issues are all partially to blame.

But no matter how you slice it, Canada has a clear role to play in solving this worsening crisis, for today and the decades ahead. Of the world’s top 10 oil and gas exporters, Canada is a leader on at least 10 environment, social and governance indices, from 2020’s Environmental Performance Index to the Sustainable Development Index 2020.

We lead the planet in emission intensity reductions, water recycling, carbon capture utilization and storage, methane emission reductions, renewables, clean-tech and innovation, and we’re one of only a few global oil and gas producers with carbon pricing.

We shouldn’t be on the sidelines in this crisis. Let’s play the role of our lives and help ease the lack of supply hitting our global neighbours. There couldn’t be a better time than now.

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.