A duty I enjoy as founder and spokesperson at Canada Action is participating in public discussions on issues around energy and natural resources, often alongside people who offer differing perspectives.
Recently, in a return guest spot on Vancouver’s most listened-to radio station, I was joined on a panel by an accomplished columnist who is a journalism professor and former major daily editor. While we didn’t agree on everything, I appreciated my co-panelist’s participation, and thought many comments showed an articulate, knowledgeable and experienced viewpoint.
Some of our exchanges are worth highlighting. For example, a caller pointed out the fact that China is burning a growing amount of coal to the extent that Chinese emissions dwarf Canada’s, and will do so well into the future. The host paraphrased the caller’s point: “The argument is that if we were to sell our LNG to China in order to displace its coal, the planet would be better off…”
I subscribe to that exact argument as part of the solution to climate mitigation. But my co-panelist then added: “Let’s not forget that China, which is the largest contributor to carbon emissions in the world, is also a leader in solar, wind, electrification. They’ve been going all out, and they are, in many ways, way ahead of the U.S. or ourselves or any other country (on renewables). So, yes, they’re burning coal, but at the same time they’re making huge leaps in terms of turning to renewables and electrification…”
To be clear, if we’re going to provide ‘Kudos to China’ for building out its coal power plants while also investing in wind and solar, then I’ll eagerly await a far more positive assessment of Canada.
That assessment should recognise that Canada’s coal-fired electricity generation is on track to be phased out by 2030, we’ve peaked in oil and gas GHGs, our LNG industry has reduced emissions and we’re genuinely leading in wind, solar and hydro.
There’s simply no reconciliation with Indigenous populations without improved economic conditions for their communities. LNG will allow First Nations communities to lift themselves out of systemic, generational poverty.
Canadians are craving a balance among views on energy. Shutting down Canada’s oil and gas sector, an ambition held by many on the West Coast and elsewhere, is just not the answer when that product will be replaced by Saudi Arabia, U.S. and other producers.
It’s a message we’re delivering in several Canadian regions, including coastal B.C.: The enormous role sought by First Nations communities in Canadian oil and gas production, along with Canada’s strong commitments on the environment, human rights, health and safety, make the prescription unmistakable:
As global populations increase, the world needs more Canada, not less.
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.