Any new fossil fuel investments in Canada will have to factor in the realities and risks of the shift to a low-carbon economy, and won’t be viable without some form of carbon capture, newly-appointed U.S. climate envoy and ex-IPCC scientist Jonathan Pershing told the Globe and Mail during a visit to Ottawa last week.
“In 2050, we can’t have the same level of emissions as we do today,” he said. “That doesn’t mean you can’t invest in fossil. It means if you invest in it, you have to do so in the context of a low-carbon future.”
In an interview on CBC’s Power and Politics, Pershing walked back Secretary of State John Kerry’s past description of Canadian tar sands/oil sands as “one of the dirtiest sources of fuel on the planet,” suggesting the decision on future bitumen development “is not so black and white.”
Without some form of carbon capture, “you are going to have a higher risk profile,” he told the Globe. But on CBC, he pointed to “some very interesting research that says you can actually have a negative barrel of oil in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, if what you do is collect more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than is emitted by that barrel.”
Without some form of carbon capture or offset, he maintained further tar sands/oil sands development “doesn’t work.”
Pershing also pointed to “growing opportunities for profitable investment in the renewable energy and clean technology industries,” the Globe reports. “He noted capital spending on clean power significantly outpaced fossil energy across the world last year, including in China.”