In what CBC is calling “a major shift in tone for the Alberta premier”, Jason Kenney is saying Alberta fossils’ access to new project investment will depend on environmental action from industry and government.
“We have got to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time when it comes to the energy and environment dynamic,” Kenney said Saturday, during a virtual Q&A at his United Conservative Party’s annual general meeting.
The comment came after a party member noted that federal Conservative leader Erin O’Toole had committed to meeting Canada’s greenhouse gas reduction targets under the 2015 Paris Agreement. The member asked Kenney whether he’d known about that policy position when he decided to support O’Toole’s leadership bid earlier this year, and whether supporting Paris would harm the Alberta fossil industry.
Kenney replied that former prime minister Stephen Harper supported Paris because it’s an “aspirational target,” then told the member that “oil and gas companies are telling him it is getting harder to access funding for projects from lenders without demonstrating a commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” CBC writes.
“I don’t think Erin is wrong to say that we have to find a way forward for our industry where we don’t stick our head in the ground and pretend that the aspirations behind the Paris thing are not hugely influential in how capital is allocated and how market access decisions are made,” Kenney said.
It’s a big turnaround for the provincial leader who “demanded Deutsche Bank provide reasons for its decision to stop funding oilsands and railed about the ‘misinformed campaign from European financial institutions’,” CBC notes, after the big international lender announced its withdrawal in late July.
Alberta is also investing C$1.5 billion and providing $6 billion in loan guarantees for the Keystone XL pipeline, “a project that Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has vowed to kill if he wins next month’s U.S. election,” the national broadcaster adds. “In order to ensure Alberta’s investment pays off, Canada has to show a potential new administration in the United States that the sector is making progress on reducing emissions, he said.”
That was when Kenney made his statement about walking and chewing gum. “One of the reasons I supported Erin is that he gets that,” he said.
What, exactly, the federal Conservative leader “gets” became a bit more clear when O’Toole joined Kenney (without masks or social distancing) for part of the Q&A. O’Toole’s emphasis was on the progress he said Canadian resource companies are making in pursuit of climate goals.
“If we ever replace a barrel of Canadian energy from world supply, who’s replacing that?” he asked. [Hint: It may be a batt of insulation, a wind or solar farm, or a unit of battery storage, not another fossil company—Ed.] “They don’t care in other countries about carbon intensity, social governance, Indigenous engagement. So we should be proud of what we do here.”