The 1.5 C global temperature containment target, the basis of the Paris Agreement in 2015 that requires the decarbonization of global energy infrastructure, does not represent an optimal basis for dealing with climate change and maintaining, if not improving, living standards around the world — especially in regard to the affordability and reliability of basic energy services.
The current United Nations climate process and the support it has received from left-wing entities across the developed world, including Canada’s current Liberal government, has never been about finding an optimal mix of climate change mitigation and adaptation initiatives.
Rather than striving to fundamentally reinvent the current UN climate process, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Environment Minister Stephen Guilbeault have chosen to mandate the decarbonization of Canada’s electricity generation by 2035, regardless of the significant costs associated with the change. Further, the Canadian government is striving to restrict the consumption of hydrocarbons in Canada and eliminate the export of Canadian hydrocarbon production, regardless of the negative economic effects it will have on our country, but especially on Alberta.
The world will rediscover the inherent intermittency of wind and solar and its inadequate energy density compared to hydrocarbon and nuclear alternatives, which limit their economic viability and reliability. Regardless of how much climate extremists and other left-wing ideologists argue that no price is too great to eliminate the effects of climate change, at some point the cost of their excessive inclusion in our economies becomes unsustainable.
No real-world example exists to demonstrate that a total reliance on renewable energy sources, supported by battery storage systems, can be practically, reliably and affordably implemented at any scale without natural gas as a significant component of the supply mix.
With great irony, the same week that Guilbeault announced his intention to decarbonize Canada’s electricity grid by 2035, the price of oil exceeded $80 per barrel on world markets, with futures markets trending even higher; this proves the enduring value of hydrocarbons in the real world. Instead of acceding to some fundamental reconsideration of Canadian energy and climate policy, the federal government contends that decarbonization represents an economically painless transition with no risks to humanity, especially those that must face the depths of a western Canadian winter — all virtuous leftist upside.
Talk about misinformation. Talk about basic economic and scientific illiteracy.
The optimal configuration of Alberta’s power grid will unfold over time, given the province’s existing open market design and as long as explicit pricing signals exist for carbon emissions. Of course, such pricing signals must conform to what other major trading partners are imposing and be determined by appropriate cost-benefit analysis.
Very soon, Canadians will have a choice in the next federal election on whether these extreme climate policies will be reaffirmed or not. When making this decision, we must consider how far Canada will go to impose costs on itself in pursuit of decarbonization, beyond what is realistic and what the developed world is actually capable of achieving.
For Alberta, if the current federal government is re-elected on the basis of decarbonization, we will be faced with an even more daunting choice. No doubt more mandates and regulations will be imposed, resulting in further destruction of Alberta’s economy.
So, why would Alberta remain in a Confederation where its basic economic interests are ignored and excessive costs are imposed on it? Especially in a world that continually shows no capacity to stop consuming hydrocarbons.
Finally, if reality is to be confronted — who can credibly believe that the punitive and selective treatment that Alberta has received from the Liberal government over the course of my lifetime — roughly 70 years — would have been the same if Alberta’s hydrocarbon endowment had been located in Quebec?
We all know the answer.
Men like Guilbeault and Trudeau would be vocal advocates of gradual adoption, economically sound cost-benefit analysis, real-world discount rates, the absolute necessity of natural gas and everything else that Alberta has been advocating for in respect to energy and climate policy.
Sick hypocrisy abounds.
Dennis McConaghy, a former executive vice-president at TransCanada Corp., now TC Energy, has recently published his third book, Carbon Change: Canada on the Brink of Decarbonization.