Week 17, April 27: Fossil-Fuel Wind-Down
This is one of the 26 segments of Guy Dauncey’s Climate Emergency: A 26-Week Transition Program for Canada. Excerpted by permission.
In 2017, Canada’s oil and gas sector produced 195 Mt of CO2e, accounting for 27% of the country’s emissions. Between 2020 and 2024, oil and gas corporations are planning to invest US$1.4 trillion in new extraction projects, 85% of which are in the U.S. or Canada, 50% of which former Bank of England governor Mark Carney tells us will result in stranded financial assets. These future investments would release 148 gigatonnes of carbon CO2 by 2050, the equivalent of 1,200 new coal-fired power plants. If we allow this, all of our other efforts to get Canada’s climate pollution under control will be wasted.
Following Earth Day April 22, we confront the biggest challenge to climate action in Canada, while sustaining the unity of our country and supporting the front-line fossil fuel workers whose jobs will be displaced as a result of the transition off fossil fuels. To succeed in our goal of reducing GHG emissions by 65% by 2030 and 100% by 2040, we must extract only those fossil fuels that are needed to see us through the transition. To this end:
- We will work with the provinces and use our federal regulatory powers to phase out the use of coal by 2027, three years ahead of our current schedule.
- We will work similarly to phase out the use of natural gas by 2035, except for emergency purposes.
- We accept the science which shows that natural gas produced by fracking is as bad as coal because of its fugitive methane emissions, and that liquefied natural gas (LNG) consequently produces no climate benefit compared to coal or other fossil fuels. We will cease our mistaken efforts to win carbon offset credits for the export of LNG.
- We will work similarly to phase out the use of oil by 2040, except for emergency purposes.
- We will write off our investment in the Trans Mountain Pipeline.
- We will not approve any new or expansion fossil fuel projects.
- We will not approve any more licences for exploratory drilling for oil or gas.
- As announced in January (Week 2), we will financially protect all front-line fossil fuel workers whose jobs are phased out with a two-year Transition Income Guarantee averaging $50,000 a year, job placement assistance, free college education, and business or cooperative start-up support.
- As announced in February (Week 6), we will engage the citizens of northeastern British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan in the development of a prosperous post-carbon future. We will form nine regional Prairie Solutions Citizens Assemblies, and support emerging projects through our Green Prairies Fund.
- We will end all fossil fuel subsidies by 2021. Reviews suggest that Canada offers $3 billion to companies to explore and produce oil and gas within Canada, and that Export Development Canada spent almost $12 billion in 2016 and $10 billion in 2017 on foreign oil production.
- Starting in 2021, we will require that all conventional and social media advertising for fossil fuels and for fossil-fueled electricity, vehicles, and heat carry a climate danger warning, including adverts for conventional cars. Starting in 2025 we will ban all such advertising.
- To ensure that the closure of fossil-fuel facilities or the bankruptcy of companies does not leave abandoned toxic sites, we will require every facility to post a bond sufficient for clean-up, as estimated by a professional third-party cost estimator.
- In 2017, methane produced 93 Mt of CO2e, accounting for 13% of Canada’s GHGs, of which fossil fuels were responsible for 40%. Over 20 years, which is the time frame of climate urgency that matters, methane traps 84 times more heat in the atmosphere than CO2. To maximize the reduction in fugitive methane emissions in the years leading up to total phaseout we will tighten existing methane regulations for the upstream oil and gas sector and add a Fugitive Methane Emissions Tax, at a price to be determined. The methane tax will also apply to landfills, and potentially in future to other biogenic sources such as cattle and sheep.