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Saskatchewan Analysts See Energy Retrofits, Renewables as ‘Very Practical’ Path to Economic Recovery

As oil prices plummet and coronavirus-hit economies reel, analysts and experts are urging aggressive investment in labour-intensive renewable energy projects and efficiency retrofits as a responsible, cost-efficient, and “very practical” path through—and beyond—the pandemic.

With the price of oil drilling deeper and deeper—to the point of actually hitting negative levels recently, with Western Canadian Select trading at -$3.83 USD per barrel as of April 22—and the oil-dependent economies of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador ever more distressed, policy analysts say a speedy investment in the renewable energy sector could alleviate some of the suffering, reports CBC.

“There are very practical reasons it would make sense,” said Martin Boucher, a public policy lecturer at the University of Saskatchewan.

One key reason is that weak oil prices are here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future, with the U.S. Energy Information Administration forecasting “only gradual increases” in crude oil prices through 2020.

CBC notes that “trade wars and production increases by the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Russia, and other global powers and the lack of pipeline capacity in the landlocked Canadian Prairies are combining with labour-saving technology to decrease prices.” These factors began before COVID-19 came knocking, and will linger long after the pandemic ends.

The ravaging effect that rock-bottom oil prices will have on economies dependent upon the resource has been confirmed by government forecasts, which report that the Saskatchewan government alone could suffer “as much as C$1.2 billion” in lost oil revenues this year.

CBC points to experts like Francesco La Camera, director general of the International Renewable Energy Agency, who are policy-makers to alleviate such devastating economic fallout with economic measures that fight the climate crisis. “Stimulus and recovery measures in response to the pandemic must foster economic development and job creation, promote social equity and welfare, and put the world on a climate-safe path,” La Camera recently advised.

The $1.7 billion that Ottawa recently committed to clean up abandoned oil wells in Alberta, with the expectation of creating 5,200 oilfield services jobs, is definitely a move along that path, says CBC. Also fostering both climate protection and job creation: $750 million in new federal monies to support innovation in methane reduction in the oil and gas sector.

Coupling climate initiatives with job creation can produce a much bigger bang for the invested buck, said Boucher, who specializes in energy transition policy. He told CBC that reallocating even a small share of government funding to green endeavours “will provide far more jobs per dollar invested than investing in the oil industry.” He recommended energy-efficient retrofits for homes—“better windows or thicker insulation”—as a labour-intensive investment that requires local spending, and keeps more money in homeowners’ pockets.

“These are simple approaches, but they’re domestic. They don’t put us in a situation where we’re overly exposed to the ebbs and flows of oil and gas,” Boucher said.

And then there are the jobs—and the tax revenue—waiting to be realized in solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass energy systems.

“Saskatchewan’s got so much potential,” said Saskatoon-based energy consultant Jason Praski. Many in the province have already been won over to the merits of the green economy, and investments have already been made in generating biomass energy from local crop and wood waste, but the economic devastation wrought by COVID-19 could still bring many more onside.

“I think the whole pandemic is helping us pay more attention to each other and look after each other, and the climate change crisis is really a similar problem, it’s just longer term,” said Praski. “As we think about this whole thing, rethinking our lives, it may get us all thinking a little closer toward doing the greener thing if we can.”

3 Comments (Open | Close)

3 Comments To "Saskatchewan Analysts See Energy Retrofits, Renewables as ‘Very Practical’ Path to Economic Recovery"

#1 Comment By Frank White On April 25, 2020 @ 9:53 AM

Re this excerpt — “Many in the province have already been won over to the merits of the green economy, and investments have already been made in generating biomass energy from local crop and wood waste …” I respectfully suggest that we move beyond false hope stories.

It’s past time for us to come to grips with the stark reality of our existential crises. And no story does that better than a new documentary film “Planet of the Humans”, directed by Michigan filmmaker Jeff Gibbs, I highly recommend it.

I have posted the film and accompanying information on my blog under this linked title : subtitle: “Al Gore, Bill McKibben and others sold us out to wealthy interests years ago, for ‘green illusions’” : Documentary film a shocking wake-up call to the stark reality of human-caused climate catastrophe. (ShortLink: https://wp.me/pO0No-5cz )

As the film clearly depicts, “we have fallen for illusions, ‘green’ illusions, that are anything but green” – including, for example, so-called renewable solar and wind, clean energy technologies, biomass, and electric cars.

Here’s a partial list of the scoundrels who sold us out: Al Gore, Bill McKibben, Richard Branson, Robert F Kennedy Jr., Michael Bloomberg, Van Jones, Koch Brothers, General Motors, 350.org, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sierra Club, and Elon Musk.

This is a long (1-hr, 40-min) information-rich, evidence-based film that captures scenes of these rogues actually lying to the film’s director, Jeff Gibbs. Personally, I found the film emotionally exhausting. Nothing could have prepared me for the distressing image of the orangutan at the very end of this film.

The film premiered at the Michigan Film Festival in July 2019. It was proclaimed the “The Most Important Documentary of the Century”. Three days ago, on April 21, producer Michael Moore made the film available on his You Tube site. To date, it has already received 1,219,333 views and 12,500 comments.

Anger and action are warranted. I’m damned angry. And I’m going to spread the word about this film among friends, politicians, journalists, environmentalists, and whoever else comes to mind. I encourage you to share it with your family, friends and associates. It is particularly important, I suggest, to bring it to the attention of students active in the climate change movement, for they have been so cruelly deceived by these fraudsters.

Sadly, based on my 10 years of blogging, much of it about the existential crises we face, the evidence suggests we have entered terrifying, uncharted territory. I’ve read too many articles based on false hope, especially those promoting simplistic variations of a Green New Deal.

#2 Comment By Mitchell Beer On April 26, 2020 @ 11:13 PM

Well, I’m sorry you gave so much credence to Moore’s and Gibbs’ mostly fact-free smear. Apart from their material on biomass, there really wasn’t very much to it, and the avalanche of reaction over the last 100 or so hours has proven the point multiple times over. Here’s a sampling of the critiques we’ve run across, and you’ll find more if you follow the link to the Films For Action site:


We don’t often publish two stories on a single topic, and this additional one won’t make tomorrow’s Energy Mix digest because Planet of the Humans didn’t warrant a full 1/6 of the space we have available to distribute real and often time-sensitive stories. But here’s a second commentary that might be useful, even if it also shows you why the editors at my student newspaper many years ago would never let me write film reviews: