Jason Kenney and the end of oil

2020-02-10

in Canada, Economics, Politics, Science, The environment

Don Braid is reporting on recent comments from Alberta premier Jason Kenney, presumably uttered in the hope of bolstering the chances the Trudeau cabinet will approve the Teck Frontier mine:

“Over the next decades as we go through the energy transition, we all know that there will be a continued demand for crude,” he told a panel at Washington’s Wilson Center last Friday.

Kenney added: “It is preferable that the last barrel in that transition period comes from a stable, reliable liberal democracy with among the highest environmental, human-rights and labour standards on earth.”

Energy transition. Last barrel. Transition period. Six not-so-little words we’ve never heard clearly from Kenney before.

“I have a firm grasp of the obvious,” Kenney said in a later interview. “There is no reasonable person that can deny that in the decades to come we will see a gradual shift from hydrocarbon-based energy to other forms of energy.”

There is still a lot to criticize, of course, and Canadian oil is far less positive from an environmental and human rights stance than industry boosters admit.

Still, there is cause to see these comments as significant. Even for a politician that defines their political programme in terms of support to the oil and gas industry it has become necessary to acknowledge that there is a limit to total permissible global production because of climate change, even if Kenney talks about it here in the impersonal and indirect language of a ‘change in demand’.

Kenney is setting out the logic of the bitumen industry’s downfall here, even though he is trying to do the opposite. Once you accept that oil production can’t continue forever or until all reserves are exhausted, and then you start deciding which oil to produce or not produce on economic and environmental grounds, unless you have motivated reasoning and a set conclusion all along, few people are going to conclude that it makes sense for that oil to come from the bitumen sands.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

R.K. February 10, 2020 at 1:41 pm

Does Kenney think all the oil reserves outside Canada will be burned? Or does he think Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iran, and Venezuela will shut their down while the tar sands keep operating?

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