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TBT: What If Canada Had Spent $200 Billion on Wind Instead of Fossils?

Lydia Jacobs/Public Domain Pictures

In June 2018, international environmental journalist Stephen Leahy asked a provocative question: What if Canada had invested $200 billion in wind energy over the last two decades, rather than pouring it into the tar sands/oil sands?

“Make no mistake,” said Finance Minister Bill Morneau last year, when he announced the Trudeau government’s decision to buy the Trans Mountain Pipeline for $4.5 billion. “This is an investment in Canada’s future.”

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“In fact, since 1999, more than $200 billion has been invested into the Alberta oil sands for that future,” Leahy wrote. “But what if that cash had gone into wind energy instead?”

The infographic that constituted the bulk of his post indicated that:

• The tar sands/oil sands produced enough gasoline and diesel to fuel 73 million vehicles driving an average of 16,000 kilometres per year. At today’s price of $1.8 million per megawatt, the $200 billion would have bought 111,000 MW of wind capacity, enough to power 122 million electric vehicles over the same average distance.

• Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles, which totalled 325 million tonnes in 2017, would have been cut to zero.

• The 66 megatonnes of “upstream” emissions attributed to Alberta’s tar sands/oil sands—not including the climate impact of clearing boreal forests to make way for fossil operations—would also have been eliminated.

• The average cost to drivers would have plummeted from $2,688 to $190.40.