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Fossils Ask for ‘Policy Stability’, Workers Push for Transition Funds from New Minority Parliament

Fossils asked for “policy stability”, while oil worker advocacy group Iron & Earth pushed for retraining programs and a just transition package, as the dust began to settle on this week’s federal election.

In the hours after the polls closed Monday night, fossil industry messaging struck a conciliatory tone, while still trying to wedge open the door for continued government support.

“We have had an understanding of where this government wants to go… there’s a continued focus on us to improve our GHG emissions,” Explorers and Producers Association of Canada President Tristan Goodman told the Calgary Herald. “The No. 1 thing we need is stability and certainty because we know what the policies are.”

“The biggest thing we need is just visual and vocal support for the industry,” added Andy Mah, CEO of Calgary-based Advantage Oil & Gas. “It’s (about) confidence that the regulatory and financial-fiscal environment is supportive of the energy industry—and not against it.”

The election night report by Herald columnist Chris Varcoe referred to campaign promises for climate action and emissions caps, along with policy talk about carbon capture and storage technology, hydrogen development, carbon pricing, the Clean Fuel Standard, and a 75% cut in methane reductions by 2030. Dan Tsubouchi, chief market strategist at Calgary-based SAF Group, criticized the interim targets as a new source of uncertainty.

“That’s the wildcard,” Tsubouchi told Varcoe. “We don’t know what the (interim) number is.”

The criticisms were still a bit more oblique than a 50-page pre-election assessment by the Bank of Nova Scotia, one-quarter of which was devoted to the implications for fossil stocks. Scotiabank analysts flatly declared a re-elected Liberal government a “negative” for fossils, adding that “a Conservative minority would be favourable for the (fossil) energy and midstream industries,” the Globe and Mail wrote.

The Scotiabank authors assumed new energy and environmental policies from either Liberals or Conservatives would be “most acutely felt at oil sands producers, such as MEG Energy Corporation, while boosting the outlook for natural gas-heavy producers such as Tourmaline Oil Corporation and utilities that move gas to consumers,” the Globe said.

“The companies most exposed—good or bad—to these issues are those in oil sands, followed by integrated—which all have oil sands—conventional oil, and natural gas,” the report stated. “A Conservative-led government could be more supportive of natural gas, which could require additional infrastructure.”

Against that backdrop, the real industry leadership came from Iron & Earth, with its call for a 10-year, C$10-billion retraining fund for the oil and gas work force. In July, the organization released survey results showing that two-thirds of industry employees want retraining and upskilling to work in clean energy. But this week, Executive Director Luisa Da Silva expressed skepticism that past federal promises on just transition funding will materialize.

“At what point do these stop being promises and start being actions?” Da Silva asked, in an interview with Reuters. “These are people’s livelihoods on the line.”

Reuters cites Clean Energy Canada’s estimate that the clean energy economy can generate 640,000 jobs by 2030, with strong growth in Alberta. But “Da Silva said the country risks losing the skilled labour crucial to a clean energy economy if the government does not prioritize transition funding, which the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement recognizes as important to ensure no workers are left behind as the world decarbonizes.”