(As published in a Letter to the Telegram, Nov. 7th)
In his letter to The Telegram of Oct. 22nd, Tor Naess states correctly that “fossil fuel is in the process of being phased out as a preferred energy source,” and he goes on to give some of the reasons why — the principal one being the challenge of “meeting global climate goals.”
However, he argues, since some 80 per cent of future energy requirements will still have to come from oil and gas through 2035 (itself a controversial estimate), the government should get busy and “encourage more offshore exploration activities through incentives.” Further, “the resources may stay in the ground unless developments are accelerated.”
It is becoming hard to keep track of the players as they chase profits for a resource that is of declining value.
This “acceleration” would be assisted by government through more incentives and by “streamlining” the approval process, including further weakening or removing regulations, which is the last thing our much-stressed marine environment needs.
In other words, Naess is saying the province is at risk of seeing the demand for its fossil fuel resources decline and those resources essentially becoming valueless if we wait too long.
This sounds like a desperate plea on behalf of an industry already in turmoil, and it sends the wrong message in these difficult times.
It is becoming hard to keep track of the players as they chase profits for a resource that is of declining value. We have recently learned that Husky Energy — last month’s main petitioner for government subsidies for the West White Rose extension — is being bought out by Cenovus. Are we to be left with a “white elephant” at Argentia?
China’s state oil company, China National Offshore Oil Corp., is chasing cheap oil in many other countries, and plans to start exploratory drilling in the Flemish Pass, no doubt encouraged by government’s new initiative involving reinvestment of forfeited security deposits. Perhaps there is a message here.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) is promoting a sustainable energy pathway that will see carbon emissions reductions aimed at meeting the targets of the 2015 Paris Accord. As part of a path toward economic recovery, the IEA is calling for investment in reducing methane emissions as a way of mitigating some job losses in the sector, as well as efforts to phase out fossil fuel subsidies.
The provincial government has two task forces at work now, one on the economy and the other focused on the fossil fuel industry. Both groups will hopefully be working toward a greener and more sustainable future in which the bulk of our known and unknown fossil fuels remain “in the ground.”
John D. Jacobs, chair
Council of Canadians, Avalon chapter
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