The most dramatic decision the premiers made at the 55th Annual Premiers’ Conference was to pose holding top hats for the final group photo. Their National Energy Strategy is the consensus to stick with fossil fuels regardless of the consequences.
Here is the “Vision" of the Strategy: “Canada is a global leader in providing a secure, sustainable and reliable supply of energy that is delivered with a high standard of environmental and social responsibility, consistent with efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and contributes to continued economic growth and prosperity for all Canadians.” Nearly every word of this is a lie.
In June 2014, the majority of Canadian energy exports were of fossil fuels. According to Statistics Canada, June saw $11.3 billion of energy exports. Of that, 73 per cent were exports of crude oil and bitumen and 20 per cent were natural gas and refined petroleum products. All of which is a finite resource, and not sustainable at all.
The “high standard of environmental and social responsibility,” has resulted in cancer-causing chemicals in lakes as far as 90 km away from the Tar Sands, disproportionately affecting Indigenous communities. In July Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) and the Mikisew Cree First Nation (MCFN), in collaboration with researchers from the University of Manitoba, released a report showing the associations between tar sands produced environmental contaminants and cancer and other serious illness in Fort Chipewyan, Alberta.
The oil and gas extraction industries have dramatically increased their production of greenhouse gases. According Environment Canada's Greenhouse Gas Inventory, between 1990 and 2012 they increased their production of greenhouse gasses by almost six times. The entire Canadian production of greenhouse gasses (ignoring the burning of all the oil and gas that was shipped to other countries) only increased by 17 per cent over the same time period. So much for their efforts to “reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
This strategy which leaves the oil and gas sector untouched is a bad strategy for “growth and prosperity.” Of all the sectors in the economy, the one that creates the least jobs per dollar invested is the oil and gas industry.
The rest of the strategy is as lacking in vision as this opening statement. Nowhere is there any mention of the massive public spending that will be required to build a renewable energy infrastructure to replace our reliance on fossil fuels. Instead it relies on lip service to climate change, and puts forward no demands on the fossil fuel industries.
On the website of the BC's premier Christy Clark, there are several news releases dealing with other issues discussed at the Premiers' meeting, but nothing on the National Energy Strategy. Even mentioning a document that contains the words “Climate Change” must be too much for her.
The conference is sponsored by a number of corporations including Johnson & Johnson, Coca-Cola, Labatt, TransCanada, Shoppers Drug Mart, CN. To their shame, the sponsors also include Unifor, CUPE and the Canadian Labour Congress. Once again our political leaders want to sound as if they share our concerns about the climate, our health and the need for good jobs, but in practice they will do nothing that challenges the profits of their corporate backers.