The extra carbon released each year if the Energy East pipeline were built would offset the climate gains Ontario achieved by phasing out all its coal plants, the Pembina Institute reported Tuesday, in a release that coincided with the provincial/territorial premiers’ meeting in Quebec City.
Pembina concluded that crude oil production to fill the Energy East pipeline would generate up to 32 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year. Ontario saved 31.6 Mt by cutting coal out of its electricity mix.
“Canada’s premiers have an opportunity to collaborate and provide leadership through a Canadian Energy Strategy,” said analyst Erin Flanagan. “But to achieve shared climate objectives, the provinces will have to address carbon-intensive megaprojects and their consequences in terms of emissions.”
Pembina calculated that clean energy creates 15 jobs for every $1 million invested, against two jobs for the same investment in oil and gas.
The Premiers’ meeting Tuesday produced a lukewarm declaration that the provinces would “make a transition to a lower-carbon economy through appropriate initiatives.” The declaration “represented how divided the provinces are on the issue of how to fight climate change,” CBC reports. An undertaking to “put a price on carbon or adopt other structuring initiatives” to reduce carbon pollution was included in a draft version of the document, but removed from the final.
While Quebec and Ontario are forming a wider cap and trade market with California and have set hard targets for greenhouse gas reductions, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall expressed strongest interest in clean coal technology development, noting that Canada only accounts for 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions. “As citizens of the world, if we’re not committed to finding the technological solutions to clean up coal, then we’re kind of playing on the margins,” he said.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne countered that “we are a small country in terms of our population and absolute emissions, but we are heavy emitters per capita, and that actually gives us more of a responsibility to innovate and create technologies that allow us to deal with the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.”
(Saskatchewan’s Boundary Dam carbon capture and storage project recently came under fire as a billion-dollar subsidy to the fossil fuel industry.)