The Teck Frontier oil sands project was set to be a $20 billion deal until it came to swift halt. The decision has resulted in a big hit to the Canadian economy, but that didn’t stop environmentalists championing the cancellation as a victory.
The environmentalists were happy, understanding Frontier’s failure as the correct decision in a world moving away from fossil fuels yet that announcement came just days before a Russian news outlet released plans for the country to develop a $157-billion Vostok Oil project in the Arctic.
Had the Frontier project been approved, it would have been the biggest oil sands project in Canadian history. The Vostok, to put it into perspective, is a project eight times bigger than that. So there appears to be no end in sight for a world dependent on fossil fuels.
Moving forward, Canada will continue to require oil, as will the rest of the world. Each barrel of oil used will continue to have an impact on the planet although rather than Canada’s economy reaping the benefits it will have to be bought from some of the most repressed countries in the world such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Russia.
The Alberta governtment’s throne speech on Tuesday referred to the dilemma as “dictator oil” and that many Canadians are starting to see the bigger picture. Teck was cancelled because financial institutions are worried about putting money into projects that may get stalled or delayed with Canada’s ever-changing climate regulations or more recently, vigilantes and protestors.
Many investment firms now evaluate investments based on the company’s record of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues as a point of focus rather than just their prior economic performance.
Premier Jason Kenney told the Edmonton Journal that his government is focused on combating the negative ESG myths about the Alberta’s energy sector. He has been speaking in Mexico, Toronto and New York.
Kenney recently claimed his government had retained experts on the subject who could validate major reductions in Alberta’s emissions. “Oilsands have reduced carbon intensity by 40 per cent since Kyoto (Accord on global emissions) was signed in 1997 … And we’re on track to reduce it by another 20 per cent.”
Kenney said that even with fossil fuel alternatives that will help with the reduction of oil use, by 2040, humans will still require almost 70 million barrels per day.
“In that world, would you rather that a liberal democracy with the highest environmental, human rights and labour standards in the world be a major part of the source of that 70 million barrels per day, or do you want to abandon global energy markets to the OPEC dictatorships and Putin’s Russia?” poised Kenney to potential investors.
“At the top of the top, CNRL, MEG, Cenovus, Suncor. At the bottom Saudi Aramco, Petro China and Gazprom. But guess which actors are being boycotted by capital markets? The best performers. Why? Because often these investment decisions are not being made on a company-specific basis but based on a misinformed campaign of defamation against the ‘tar sands’ by environmental groups in Europe, which are seeking to equate the oilsands with coal, which is completely unscientific.” Kenney said in an investment meeting in New York after a presentation involving a list of companies in order of their ESG ranking.
Kenney agrees with other conservative premiers in Ontario, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick, on the push to build new nuclear, small modular reactors. The new reactors offer a safe, plentiful and carbon-free source of power.
“I understand that the single most powerful tool for reducing global greenhouse gas emissions is nuclear power,” Kenney said. “The second greatest is natural gas, both of which are opposed by Greta Thunberg, Extinction Rebellion and most of the people who claim that there is a climate emergency. For me, the ultimate test of your seriousness about climate issues is whether you support or oppose nuclear power and natural-gas firepower.”