Correcting Canada’s “one eye shut” climate policy

Technical Paper #2021-4

Version Number: 1.1

April 16, 2021

Angela V. Carter and Truzaar Dordi

Meeting Canada’s climate commitments requires ending supports for, and beginning a gradual phase out of, oil and gas production.

This paper shows how growing oil and gas production is impeding Canada from meeting its climate commitments, outlines how the federal government is supporting oil and gas production growth, and recommends specific policies the federal government could adopt in the near-term to begin a phase out of oil and gas production.

Dr. Angela V. Carter is an Associate Professor at the University of Waterloo and a Fellow at the Cascade Institute. Her research focuses on environmental policy and politics surrounding oil extraction in Canada’s major oil producing provinces. Truzaar Dordi is a PhD Candidate in the School of Environment, Enterprise, and Development at the University of Waterloo. His research examines financial system stability along a low-carbon transition, which is necessary for safeguarding societal welfare against the high costs of inaction.

6 thoughts on “Correcting Canada’s “one eye shut” climate policy”

  1. Dennis Stefani

    Although you provide an interesting and alarming analysis of Canada’s contribution to the Global Carbon Budget, you don’t provide a comparative context to understand how much other industrial and oil/gas producing countries are also contributing. Without that comparison it seems to me the study is seriously flawed. Context is important.

    1. Canada has 0.5% of global population. If our plan is to use 16% of the global climate budget, that’s a problem. You really don’t need to look for other countries in order to feel better about what our country is doing.

    2. Certainly other countries have to do their part for the world as a whole to achieve global targets. That being said I think this provides enough context: “Canada’s 2021-2050 oil and gas production would exhaust about 16 percent of the world’s remaining carbon budget.”
      If our projected carbon extraction provides 16% of the available carbon budget to keep us below 2% then we are a significant contributor regardless of others.

      Additionally, despite the fact that prior to (being generous) 1990 we didn’t know that burning carbon produced measurable global change we never-the-less have a historical burden to shoulder as one of the historical G7 industrialized nations. We’ve got an unpaid debt in that our current wealth was built on the erroneous assumption that there was no external cost to how we did things.

  2. Fear and punitive measures resonate throughout your paper. I am hard pressed to believe that by 2050 we will be producing more fossil fuels.
    That said, what are the realistic solutions? We all know there is a problem and one we contribute to. . We talk of building back better, a green or blue economy, but what is it and how do we get there?
    Neither Canada nor the world is going to stop using fossil fuels in the near term. Finding efficiencies seems a short term solution as we have already seen. Providing incentives to seek out alternatives might work. Enforcement and taxation simply gets people annoyed.
    Shutting a pipeline simply opens the door to increased rail traffic and oil tankers floating off our shores, both east and west, but not under Canadian supervision , in particular, in the case of Alaskan oil serving Washington state refineries.
    You make brief reference to coal and imply that we have moved off of coal. Well; in truth, we have moved coal and with it exported carbon emissions. Westshore terminals represents a massive coal moving operation with an export market. Close to one third of that coal comes from the U.S. Dirt coal and not so dirty coal routinely arrives at Roberts Bank for export. Why?? Because the west coast states will not allow such shipments.

    Again, you have identified the problem. Now I encourage you to look beyond punitive measures of regulations, taxation and enforcement and seek solutions that are economically and socially viable and solutions that offer encouragement rather than discouragement to a very serious problem . I assure you, such solutions will most likely be far better embraced and undoubtedly build Canada better.

    1. The paper doesn’t claim it – the paper cites the federal energy regulator projections – see the caption to Figure 1: “Data sources: CAPP February 2020 Statistical Handbook for historical production; updated to 2020 using CER data; CER “evolving scenario” data for 2021-
      2050 production projections.”

  3. Louise McDiarmid

    A thoughtful and sobering article. Although as a non-scientist some of the technical information is over my head, I appreciate the the clear but often obscured path the authors have shown between how our governments have approached the threat of climate change and the power of the powerful oil and gas industry to block any substantive change.
    I wish I knew what I could do about it. I am 78, try to live lightly on the earth, and participate in a local climate change action group, but what is that compared to powerful industry lobbyists who influence policy by visiting government officials 1,224 times a year?

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