Justin Trudeau’s Green Oil Recipe

Has the Trudeau government discovered a secret recipe for producing green oil without generating greenhouse gases?

Posted at 9:00 am

That’s what one wonders when reading the plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions published by the federal government on Tuesday.

Because without magical intervention, it is difficult to see how this plan will allow Canada to achieve its climate goals and, in particular, to reduce emissions from its biggest polluter: the oil and gas sector.

We can talk about disappointment.

The wildfires, floods and heat waves that are proliferating here as elsewhere are sending us the message that we must do better.

Admittedly, there are not only downsides to the document released by the federal government. It has also been well received by many environmental organizations. It is true that we find there the outlines of what might appear to be a strategy.

The problem is that if you ask for details, you will be told: come back later. Given the fact that Canada has an ambitious target to achieve for 2030, we no longer have the luxury of waiting.

Take, for example, the oil and gas sector, which alone is responsible for 26% of Canadian emissions. If you’re Justin Trudeau or Steven Guilbeault and believe in your climate goals, this is the big piece to tackle. Especially an area that you have an influence on. The other major pollutant, transport (25% of emissions), is further subject to regional jurisdiction.

For the first time, it was mentioned in black and white that oil producers will have to significantly reduce their emissions. And not a little: By 2030, the federal government expects a 42% reduction compared to current levels.

Seeing this shape in a document is a great step forward. But turning it into reality is another story. Since 2005, emissions from the sector have increased by 137%. So you have to find a way to take your foot off the throttle, brake, and then put the machine back in.

All in less than eight years, and also tomorrow morning.

How do you accomplish such a feat? Here lies the problem. Because the “plan” contains very few details.

The federal government says it wants to capture more of the methane gas leaking from oil wells, which is certainly a step in the right direction. But for the rest, it is very meager.

We rely heavily on carbon capture and storage technologies that are still in development and whose promise is hypothetical.

Otherwise, we intend to “work with partners and stakeholders” to cap emissions from this sector. For details, check back by the end of the year.

In a briefing to reporters, officials said that they believe that this 42% reduction in the oil and gas sector corresponds to the increase in oil production in the country!

Let’s say we’re waiting to see it until we believe it.

“In other sectors, the emissions that will be reduced are just as important, but no description has been given. These are basically future measures,” also notes Pierre-Olivier Pinault, energy expert at HEC Montreal, who sees the plan as “unreliable”.

The same reaction at the Trottier Energy Institute. “I am very depressed reading this plan…” fired its scientific director, Professor Norman Musso, who notes that we are not establishing a link between the announced measures and the reductions we are hanging out from.

This reduction plan, we would have liked to applaud it a lot. The Trudeau government had set a high bar. Its Carbon Accountability Act requires it to publish regular plans, to set intermediate targets, and to implement follow-ups.

Seriously, we said to ourselves.

It’s even more disappointing.

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