Recent statements from the International Energy Agency (IEA) make a strong case for sharply increasing investment in oil and gas worldwide.
In fact, I’d argue that energy investors who value leadership in climate, environmental, social and governance criteria – what I’ll term CESG criteria – should focus their investments in Canada.
On the other hand, the IEA’s newly released roadmap to net-zero explains that strong momentum, the climate pledges of various jurisdictions and the infusion of sustainable finance are just not yet translating into the sort of upswing in clean energy spending that’s needed to meet the net-zero goal by 2050. But that doesn’t change the fact that the agency is adamant that the world continues to need oil and gas, and will for many years to come.
For the IEA, it’s crucial the globe steps up its oil production immediately if we’re to prevent a serious energy crisis. And the agency estimates the world needs hundreds of billions of dollars of investment per year – and trillions of dollars cumulatively – in oil and gas in order to keep pace with energy demand.
That’s not even to mention the tens of thousands of new kilometres of pipelines that will be built to transport higher volumes of oil and gas to markets around the globe while our own pipeline construction program is fraught with approval challenges and delays.
But the IEA also identifies some real weaknesses in current clean energy investment trends, finding that current dollars directed towards renewables are not nearly sufficient to put us on a path to net-zero by 2050.
As far as these net-zero commitments go, there continues to be opportunities in Canada to advance clean energy capacity. It’s easy to forget that Alberta is home to Canada’s first wind farm, commissioned back in 1993. Currently, two of the largest wind and solar projects in North America are under construction in this province. Many others are in operation.
Meeting longer-term climate ambitions will depend on evolving corporate strategies, including those connected to traditional oil and gas, and on innovation becoming a key pillar of government net zero plans, the IEA explains.
While the IEA says the anticipated US$750 billion to be spent on clean energy technologies and efficiency in 2021 is encouraging, the agency adds that this level “remains far below what’s required to put the energy system on a sustainable path. Clean energy investment would need to triple in the 2020s to put the world on track to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.”
From my perspective, Canada is already playing a strong role on what the IEA identifies as two crucial energy fronts. We’re well placed to lead not just as a destination for net-zero investment opportunities, but also as a strong “CESG energy supplier” for a planet desperate for our superior oil and gas products.
Cody Battershill is a Calgary realtor and founder / spokesperson for CanadaAction.ca, a volunteer-initiated group that supports Canadian energy development and the environmental, social and economic benefits that come with it.