Climate change will be a central issue in the upcoming Canadian federal election. Some polls show the electorate considers it one of their top three issues of importance. Access to affordable, reliable, clean energy is also a concern to many Canadians. As a result, Deidra Garyk, a Canadian Energy Advocate based in Calgary working in the oil and gas sector, has reviewed each party’s plan, and has written an open letter to each leader. All responses received will be shared publicly to help you make a decision on Election Day.
Dear Right Honourable Prime Minister Trudeau,
As someone who works in the Canadian oil and gas sector, I have been reading and watching your climate and energy announcements with interest.
One of the planks of your platform is “protecting our environment and moving our economy forward” and it is broken down into:
- Fighting and Preparing for Climate Change
- Protecting Canada’s Natural Legacy
- Making Communities Cleaner, More Efficient, and More Affordable
In order to accomplish all of this, you have made a number of proposals, but as Canadians have come to expect of your Party, they lack details. As a result, I’d like you to clarify a few things for me.
Net-zero emissions by 2050 by halving the corporate tax rate payable by companies that develop or manufacture products with zero emissions. Could you please clarify what “net-zero emissions” means to you and your Party? Do you believe that Canada going to net-zero emissions will stop climate change? It won’t.
I’m making the assumption that you mean CO2 when you say “emissions”. Why are you only concerned about emissions? For example, companies that produce batteries for zero-emission vehicles have an environmental impact when it comes time to dispose the batteries. How will this be factored into their business responsibilities? We must look at the full life-cycle of a product and ensure that it is not destructive to the environment at the end of its life, and if it is, we must mitigate its harm.
Plan to decrease emissions by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. The department of Environment and Climate Change Canada has reported that we are not on our way to meet this target, so how will you accomplish this? If 80 percent of emissions occur at the combustion stage, why are you not asking Bombardier or GM or other companies who create products that produce large amounts of emissions to create zero-emission products? It seems like you’re putting all of the responsibility to reduce emissions to zero on the sector that produces the product that many people and companies use, the oil and gas sector, but not enough on the parties responsible for creating much of the emissions, the consumer.
Set legally-binding, five-year milestones in consultation with experts, including scientists and economists, to reach your 2050 goal. I’m glad that you’ve made this commitment because I find it a bit concerning that the Liberals’ Plan speaks to taking the lead on climate action from young people, and not from scientists and experts. I, myself, enjoy a good rally and like to see youth engagement, but serious issues such as climate change need to be addressed by experts to ensure that the proposed solutions have maximum positive impact. While the climate marches create awareness, they don’t actually encourage personal accountability or personal action plans. They demand someone else, namely the government, do something, anything, to fix the problem. As a leader you need to promote action plans with a meaningful outcome. I’d like to see some of the youth energy focused on finding innovative solutions.
Plant two billion trees. Where will you plant these trees? Who will pay for them, both the planting and the maintenance? What outcome do you hope to accomplish? We know trees are a source of carbon sequestration, but how will you measure the effectiveness of this action item? In a world with an estimated three trillion trees, does two billion really make a difference? Particularly because Canada already has 9 percent of the world’s forests.
Ensure all federal buildings run on clean electricity by 2022. Is this even realistic? According to Natural Resources Canada, wind accounts for 4.4 percent of electricity generation in Canada, while solar makes up only 0.5 percent. We’re fortunate that hydro makes up 60.2 percent, but that’s mainly in five of the provinces and territories. There are federal buildings outside of Quebec, Mr. Trudeau. How will they be powered?
Conserve and protect 25 percent of Canada’s land and 25 percent of Canada’s oceans by 2025, working towards 30 per cent in each by 2030. This sounds reasonable in theory. However, your original target was to protect 10 percent of Canada’s marine and coastal areas by 2020, but now you have increased it by an additional 15 percent, and I worry that your plans are going to stop resource development entirely. For example, it appears that the new protections in the Canadian High Arctic have the potential to create another impenetrable transportation corridor. I worry that we can forget about a corridor to and a port at Churchill, Manitoba, to export our energy. Could you please explain the new High Arctic protection plan and alleviate my concerns if I am incorrect?
There is also Bill C-88 – An Act to amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts that was passed by Parliament in June 2019 that gives the government the ability to limit development in the north and in the Arctic offshore if it deems it to be in the national interest. I support reasonable protection measures, but it appears that this Bill was passed very quickly and quietly, and there’s little understanding of how it will be applied. As a result, I’m concerned that this will create a Bill C-48 scenario where we hamstring our own progress yet again. What is your end goal with this Act? Could you let me know the status of the regulations that are applicable to the Act and the High Arctic Plan?
Plan to phase out coal power by 2030. What fuel source will you use to replace all of the coal currently in use in just over ten years?
Carbon tax – Affordability is a one of the top issues for many Canadians in this election, and helping the middle class is one of the key principles of the Liberals’ campaign. Access to affordable, secure, reliable Canadian energy can help with affordability. However, ever increasing carbon taxes make bill payment more difficult. It’s been said that the $50/ tonne carbon tax will not be sufficient for Canada to meet its Paris targets. Instead, $102/ tonne, or $0.26/ litre of gasoline, is required, possibly even higher. If elected, how high do you intend to raise the carbon tax? When will this price increase be implemented?
The oil and gas industry contributed $117 billion to Canada’s gross domestic product in 2018. If you succeed in destroying it completely, what do you plan to put in place to replace that lost revenue? Marijuana? Revenue from cannabis taxes will not be enough to offset the destruction to oil and gas royalties and tax revenue. Cannabis store sales averaged $55.3 million per month for the period of October 2018 to March 2019, according to Stats Canada. Total sales in 5.5 months was $247.11 million. That’s total sales, not total tax revenue. It’s not comparable. You are destroying Canadians and their livelihoods today with no plan for the future.
Mr. Trudeau, you were willing to sacrifice your integrity and reputation to save 9,000 jobs that could be lost if SNC-Lavalin left Canada, but you haven’t defended Canadian oil and gas and the jobs in that sector. Do these jobs not matter? Do the people who work in these jobs not matter because they aren’t from your home province?
Catherine McKenna recently said that climate change represents a “moral responsibility”. Do you not feel that you have a moral responsibility to support ordinary, working people in the oil and gas industry and the adjacent sectors? Your climate change plan includes something called a “Just Transition Act” to give workers in affected sectors access to training, support and new opportunities to adapt to the transforming economy. I’m worried that it isn’t enough. Oil and gas gives women like me an opportunity to work in a well-paying, stimulating, challenging career, and that isn’t easy to find these days. If you support women, like you say you do, then you should support the Canadian oil and gas sector for the quality of life it gives to families and women like me.
We all have a responsibility to reduce our consumption and emissions. Yes, I’m looking in the mirror as I’m saying this. ALL of us have a responsibility. What are you personally willing to sacrifice to solve our environmental problems? What are you currently doing? You are using two airplanes for your campaign. It’s ridiculous and hypocritical. “But we purchased carbon offsets”, you say. Buying carbon offsets is just a way for those with money to excuse their poor behaviour while continuing on guilt free. How about not emitting unnecessarily in the first place?
I look forward to hearing back from you with more information on the Liberal Party’s climate and energy plans prior to the upcoming federal election.
Please note that I will be publishing this as an open letter, so any responses I receive will be shared to help voters make an informed decision in the upcoming election.