The oil and gas industry is in an unprecedented crisis, as explained in an April 1 blog by the International Energy Agency: “The global oil industry is experiencing a shock like no other in its history” . Yet on March 31, in what Common Dreams calls “a shameful new low”, the Alberta government announced a $1.5 Billion cash infusion to “kickstart” the Keystone XL Pipeline. Ian Hussey of the Parkland Institute reacted with “Alberta’s Keystone XL investment benefits oil companies more than Albertans” (April 2). Bill McKibben reacted with outrage in “In the Midst of the Coronavirus Pandemic, Construction Is Set to Resume on the Keystone Pipeline” in The New Yorker . McKibben subsequently surveys the situation in Canada and the U.S. in “Will the Coronavirus Kill the Oil Industry?” in the New Yorker .
As the Canadian federal government continues to formulate its economic recovery plan Covid-19, loud calls are coming to invest in clean energy, not oil and gas
The International Energy Agency provides factual rationale for the push for a cleaner recovery, in “Put clean energy at the heart of stimulus plans to counter the coronavirus crisis”. On April 3, an Open Letter from Canada’s clean energy sector associations was sent to the federal government, calling for a “Resilient Recovery”, and emphasizing the job creation potential of the clean economy sector – (estimated pre-Pandemic as employing 559,400 Canadians by 2030) .
Also on April 3, a virtual rally of 56,000 people was organized by Stand.earth as part of a Bail out People not Polluters campaign, summarized by the Energy Mix. Quotes published by Stand.earth sum up the arguments:
“… Canadians will not accept a sweetheart deal for oil company execs and shareholders to protect Big Oil’s bottom line, and prop up a sunset industry. We need every single public dollar available to save lives, support communities and rebuild a cleaner, more resilient future….Because that other crisis—climate change—hasn’t gone anywhere. In this moment, when the global economy has been shuttered in humanity’s collective battle against COVID-19, governments must seize the opportunity to change course when it starts back up again. To put people back to work building massive solar and wind farms, not pipelines. To invest in the jobs of the future, not the jobs of the past.”
Earlier Canadian “No Bailout” voices are summarized in a previous WCR article , which highlights the Open Letters sent to the federal government by civil society groups and academics. A selection of more recent calls include: “Morneau, provinces must apply climate lens to COVID-19 recovery efforts” in iPolitics (April 9); “Pandemic response should mobilize around low carbon solutions” by Mitchell Beer in Policy Options (Mar. 26) ; “Let’s come out of COVID-19 with a new economy” an Opinion piece by Merran Smith and Dan Woynillowicz in The National Observer (April 8) ; “Green stimulus offers Canada a way forward for escaping the next recession” (March 26) and “Ottawa’s bail-outs need to help airline and oil and gas sectors grow greener” (April 8), both by Sustainable Prosperity.
Last word to Jim Stanford, in “We’re going to need a Marshall Plan to rebuild after Covid-19 ” in Policy Options (April 2):
“…. With the price of Western Canada Select oil falling to close to zero … it is clear that fossil fuel developments will never lead Canadian growth again. Politicians and their “war rooms” can rage at this state of affairs, but they can’t change it: they might as well pray for a revival in prices for beaver pelts or other bygone Canadian staple exports. However, the other side of this gloomy coin is the enormous investment and employment opportunity associated with building out renewable energy systems and networks (which are now the cheapest energy option anyway). This effort must be led by forceful, consistent government policy, including direct regulation and public investment (in addition to carbon pricing). Another big job creator, already identified by Ottawa and Alberta, will be investment in remediation of former petroleum and mining sites.”