Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and Jason Nixon, Minister of Environment and Parks chat before the speech from the throne is delivered in Edmonton on Tuesday May 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and Jason Nixon, Minister of Environment and Parks chat before the speech from the throne is delivered in Edmonton on Tuesday May 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Painful Truth: Short term goals needed on climate action

Politicians are arguing along predictable lines but not working on immediate goals

The letter about why the Teck Frontier oil sands mine is dead has turned out to be the Rorschach test of modern Canadian energy politics.

In a key paragraph, the letter cites a number of factors that killed the massive $20-billion Alberta project.

They include “global capital markets are changing rapidly” and the need for “a framework… that reconciles resource development and climate change,” which the letter says does not exist “here.” (Canada? Alberta? Earth?)

“Questions about the societal implications of energy development, climate change, and Indigenous rights are critically important ones for Canada, its provinces, and Indigenous governments to work through,” the paragraph concludes.

Well, that’s true enough, but it feels a bit like finishing your rushed Grade 6 social studies essay with “in conclusion, Bolivia is a land of many contrasts.”

We know that. What we should do about it is the question.

So far, reaction to the death of Teck Frontier has fallen out along predictably partisan lines.

Environmentalists have pointed to the fact that oil prices have been way below where Teck said they would need to be to be profitable, and that investment funds were getting leery about long-term stakes in fossil fuel extraction, as no one can accurately forecast how long we’ll keep pumping oil at the level we have been.

This is entirely true.

Also true is that the lengthy wrangle over the Trans Mountain Pipeline and the recent protests by Indigenous Canadians and environmentalists in support of the Wet’suwet’en blockade, plus the fact that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet was widely reported to be split on Frontier would make any company reluctant to invest. Suits don’t like the idea of grubby proles turning up outside their offices waving placards, or worse, shutting down work sites.

To put my cards on the table, I was opposed to Teck Frontier. I understand the other side’s arguments, but I think building more and more oil and gas infrastructure is just going to push back the day when we can finally get to grips with the climate crisis.

But the long wrangle over Frontier and every other energy pipeline and project in Canada is sapping energy that could be put to good use elsewhere.

The only thing anyone can agree on is that a big problem is certainty, and the lack of it that exists in Canada.

The only way to actually alleviate this would be for a national plan to eliminate CO2 emissions in manageable steps.

Most importantly, those steps would have to be shorter than the current election cycle.

Net zero by 2050 sounds great, but exactly how much are we going to cut by 2022? What are we going to need to do to hit that goal? What about by 2024?

If Frontier or Coastal GasLink or other projects help or hinder those goals, we have a better handle on how to actually get out of this mess.

AlbertaBritish ColumbiaColumnColumnistFederal PoliticsLangleyOilsands

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Work was underway on the interior of the new Tennis Centre location in Langley. Popularity of the sport has risen during the pandemic (Special to Langley Advance Times)
Tennis business expands into Langley

‘Busiest we’ve ever been’ says manager

.
LETTER: Langley student calls on public to take action to stop pollution

Grade 7 students at Gordon Greenwood Elementary were tasked with writing about climate change.

Have an opinion you’d like to share? Submit letters to the editor through our website, via email or the postal service. (Heather Colpitts/Black Press Media)
LETTER: Langley and other communities should be concerned about credit union’s direction

Member read the fine print and does not like the proposed changes

Langley MLAs Andrew Mercier and Megan Dykeman. (Black Press Media files)
Langley MLAs announce multiculturalism grants intended to help fight racism

Priority was given to projects addressing anti-Indigenous, anti-Asian and anti-Black racism

People take part in an anti-curfew protest in Montreal on Sunday April 11, 2021. Hundreds of people gathered in Old Montreal tonight in defiance of a new 8 p.m. curfew. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Giuseppe Valiante
VIDEO: Hundreds defy Montreal’s 8 p.m. curfew in violent, destructive protest

Quebec reported 1,535 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, as well as five additional deaths linked to the virus

A volunteer disinfects a historical Mohabat Khan mosque ahead of the upcoming Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, in Peshawar, Pakistan, Friday, April 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Muhammad Sajjad)
For Canadian Muslims, second pandemic Ramadan is a time of hope and sadness

Many members of the association are trying to find ways ‘to help people stay connected to one another’

South Surrey farmland, March 2020. The province’s crackdown on secondary residences sparked protests that have the NDP government engaged in a lengthy rewrite of its legislation. (Tracy Holmes/Peace Arch News)
B.C. NDP now wants to keep even ‘non-farmers’ on the land

‘Grandfathering’ of second residences extended again

Photos of Vancouver Canucks players are pictured outside the closed box office of Rogers Arena in downtown Vancouver Thursday, April 8, 2021. The Vancouver Canucks say 25 players and coaches have tested positive during a COVID-19 outbreak that involves a variant of the virus. It is now the biggest reported outbreak in the NHL this season. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canucks’ return to practice pushed back as player added to COVID protocol list

COVID outbreak has led to eight games being cancelled

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

People walk past the Olympic rings in Whistler, B.C., Friday, May 15, 2020. Whistler which is a travel destination for tourists around the world is seeing the effects of travel bans due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Adults living, working in Whistler, B.C., eligible for COVID-19 vaccine on Monday

The move comes as the province deals with a rush of COVID-19 and variant cases in the community

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
UPDATE: RCMP investigating after child, 6, dies at motel in Duncan, B.C.

The BC Coroners Service is conducting its own investigation into the circumstances around the child’s death

Most Read