The federal Green Party caucus is calling on Finance Minister Bill Morneau to redirect fossil fuel subsidies to fund orphan well reclamation that would create jobs in the country’s fossil regions and ease the transition off oil and gas, iPolitics reports.
“Above all, our government needs to recognize that investing in people and protecting the environment is the right move for Canada,” MP Jenica Atwin (G-Fredericton) told media last week.
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“If subsidies were shifted to the labour portion of remediation costs, the funds would have a significantly greater effect on employment and would encourage employers to spend on remediation while still in operations,” the Greens added in their pre-budget submission.
iPolitics traces continuing uncertainty around the cost of the orphan wells cleanup and the shifting annual value of fossil subsidies—but there’s no doubt the numbers are huge, and Ottawa has been moving at a snail’s pace to put a firm dollar figure on its annual transfers to the fossil industry.
- Alberta’s Energy Regulator has put the cost of the environmental liabilities for abandoned fossil infrastructure as high as C$260 billion and estimated it would take 2,800 years to clear the backlog at today’s pace.
- The International Monetary Fund calculated direct and indirect fossil subsidies at more than $46 billion in 2016. Direct subsidies generally fall in the range of $3.3 billion per year, not including the Trudeau cabinet’s decision to buy us all a pipeline in 2018, and the federal auditor-general has scorched the government for drawing out the long-standing promise to quantify and phase out “inefficient” fossil subsidies.
Since then, “the Liberals were elected on a mandate of ensuring that energy workers are given access to ‘training, support, and new opportunities to succeed’ outside of fossil fuel jobs,” iPolitics notes. Last month, Environment and Climate Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said a federal Just Transition Act could be one of the first pieces of climate-related legislation in the new parliament.
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