by Aaryn Lambert

    Changing the Climate on Canada’s Energy and Environmental Policy

    Wrestling the Gulf Oil Spill

    As U.S. politicians wrestle with the Gulf oil spill, debate climate change actions, and gingerly steer the economy out of recession, Canada’s energy industry continues to provide jobs, energy security and new technology to reduce environmental impacts. “Finding the appropriate path forward is critical to both parties,” said Geoff Pradella, Vice-President of Public and Government Affairs with the Calgary Chamber of Commerce. “Canada needs a vision of energy and climate change that recognizes the interdependency of Canadian and U.S. energy systems, encourages continuous improvement of Jim Prentice, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Gary Doer, Canada’s Ambassador to the United States of America environmental performance, and drives technology development. This vision should not adversely affect North American trade relations or create regional disparities.”

    Changing the Climate Policy

    In May 2010, the Calgary Chamber of Commerce and the Canada West Foundation launched Changing The Climate a policy and events series developed to inform national energy and climate change policy development. Presented by ENMAX, it brings together the business community, top public policy experts, and thought leaders to explore key energy and climate change themes regarding domestic and continental policy, technological innovation and the economic implications of action. The series culminates in a policy paper providing expert commentary and strategic recommendations at a final series event in fall 2010.

    Laura Lochman, Consul General of the United States for Alberta, Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories kicked off the series.

    “The bottom line is that we are truly a North American energy market,” said Lochman at a Chamber breakfast event on May 10. “And Canada is our most secure and most reliable foreign source of energy in the world.”

    Canada is the single largest foreign supplier of energy to the U.S., providing 18 per cent of U.S. oil imports, and 82 per cent of natural gas imports. “I can definitely confirm that the Administration is committed to working collaboratively with Canada to stem carbon emissions in a way that promotes sustainable economic growth and increases North American energy security” remarked Lochman.

    Canada U.S Energy Dialogue

    A Canada-U.S. Clean Energy Dialogue was established by Prime Minister Harper and President Obama to work together. It focuses on expanding clean energy research, building a clean and renewable electricity grid and developing new technologies. New transformative technologies will be needed to reduce the carbon footprint from fossil fuel production, said the head of the Climate Change and Emissions Management Corporation (CCEMC), the second speaker in the series.

    “Alberta has an important role to play in making Canada a clean energy superpower and we believe that technology is a big part of the solution to address North America’s climate change challenge,” said Eric Newell at a June 14 Calgary Chamber of Commerce event.

    Alberta’s Climate Change Tech Fund

    Newell is Chairman of CCEMC, Alberta’s climate change tech fund resourced through industry carbon charges. The corporation has about $180 million in funding so far. In early June, it announced $71 million will flow to 16 projects. Funding will focus on greening energy production, energy efficiency and carbon capture and storage (CCS) – areas identified in the Provincial Energy Strategy.

    “As one of the world’s leading energy suppliers, we know that our future is dependent on our ability to effectively respond to environmental challenges,” said Newell.
    Other Alberta entrepreneurs are taking bold steps to commercialize new technology. Ian MacGregor, Chair of North West Upgrading and Enhance Energy, joined Jim Carter, head of the Alberta Carbon Capture and Storage Development Council, at a Calgary Chamber of Commerce luncheon to discuss the merits of CCS.

    Large-scale use of carbon dioxide for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) could result in one billion additional barrels of crude reserves, giving new life to Alberta’s conventional oil industry, commented MacGregor. MacGregor believes CCS and EOR could result in $100 billion in economic activity, with $10 – 30 billion in royalties. The industry veteran hopes to reap shades of green, both through encouraging sustainability and being profitable, by building both an up-grader and a pipeline to transport CO2 to depleted oil fields. MacGregor was behind the Weyburn project, the oldest and most successful sequestration project so far. “Carbon capture and storage is an important opportunity for Alberta,” said Carter, former President and COO of Syncrude Canada Ltd. “The technology… is already used in some form or fashion. If this could work anywhere in the world, it is here in Alberta.”

    Canada and U.S shares podium

    Canada’s Minister of Environment Jim Prentice and Canada’s Ambassador to the United States of America Gary Doer shared the podium in late June as part of the series.

    Doer said both Canada and the United States should respect their equal commitments to reduce carbon emissions, and recognize that each has its own unique challenges to achieve the target. The U.S. has over 650 coal-fired plants, whose emissions are 60 times greater than from the oil sands. Canada and the U.S. signed the Copenhagen Accord to reduce carbon emissions by 17 per cent by 2020 from 2005.

    “We’re not going to be holier-than thou on your challenges and we don’t want you to be holier-than thou on our challenges,” remarked Doer.

    Doer urged U.S. lawmakers not to introduce border measures as Canada has committed to the same carbon reduction target.

    The fall Changing The Climate speaker line-up is highlighted by T. Boone Pickens, legendary oil man and key advocate of the Pickens Plan. The Pickens Plan aims to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil (Canadian oil is not viewed as foreign) by using natural gas in transportation and generating electricity from wind power. In addition to the Pickens event, a workshop on economic implications and a panel on regulatory issues are planned.

    For more information about the series and to register for events, visit www.calgarychamber.com

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