The “opportunistic argument” that the world needs more Canadian oil has been rejected by two international reports, say experts, proving it utterly divorced from the needs of a net-zero world.
Since Russia’s war in Ukraine, Canada’s domestic oil industry and its allies have argued “that our oil can replace Russia’s ‘dictator oil,’ and that Canadian liquefied natural gas (LNG) can do the same, while also doing the world a climate favour by replacing coal,” write geography and resources professor Simon Donner and political science professor Kathryn Harrison, both from the University of British Columbia, in a recent op-ed for the Globe and Mail.
“Two international reports published recently reject those opportunistic arguments.”
Presenting the moral imperative not to develop anymore fossil projects anywhere in the world, the United Nations 2022 Emissions Gap Report finds existing national climate commitments “far short” of what will be required to meet the Paris Agreement targets, write Donner and Harrison. “We’re on track for 2.4°C to 2.6°C by the end of the century.”
And the argument that the world needs more Canadian oil and gas, is torpedoed by the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) 2022 World Energy Outlook.
The IEA’s latest findings are particularly bad news for those claiming that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which led to a sharp reduction of gas exports to Europe, calls for more freshly dug up Canadian fossil fuels.
Examining energy disruptions rippling around the world, the fallout from Russia’s war included, the IEA does “anticipate a global reshuffling of production from existing oil and gas fields over the next few years to meet urgent energy needs,” Donner and Harrison say.
What it does not anticipate is the need for any new oil and gas fields. The war in Ukraine, “coupled with the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act, and the falling costs of renewables, will hasten the transition away from oil and gas,” the two authors write.
“It is telling that when the Chancellor of Germany, the country most dependent on Russian gas, visited Canada this year, he sought green hydrogen exports, not LNG.”
Canada’s oil and gas industry often promotes the IEA’s Stated Policies scenario as a representation of future demand, but it is only included as a “reference case,” no longer credible as it “assumes no change in climate policies in any country for three decades,” Donner and Harrison write. It enables the sector to project Canadian oil demand stabilizing at roughly 10% above current levels in 2030, followed by “a modest decline thereafter,” but the fossil sector wields it “without acknowledging that it presumes a complete failure of national and global climate policy.”
Under the IEA’s other scenarios—the Announced Pledges scenario, and the Net Zero scenario necessary to limit warming to 1.5°C—global oil demand declines by 38% and 75%, respectively, by 2050. And Canada’s share will fall faster still, with production dropping 43% by 2050 under the Announced Pledges Scenario.