Trudeau Says The Ukraine War ‘Accelerated’ Canada’s Move From Oil And Gas
With the Ukraine war having helped to drive Canadian fuel prices to historic highs, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday that the conflict was helping to “accelerate” this country’s shift to renewable energy.
While Trudeau acknowledged that the Russian invasion had caused global demand to surge for Canadian sources of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and crude oil, he predicted that the net effect would be a faster phase-out of the Canadian oil and gas sector. [bold, links added]
“Right now in the coming couple of years, we’re going to need to continue with the mechanisms we have, but the move off of fossil fuels … is going to happen much faster because of Russia,” he said.
The comments were made during an appearance at an Ottawa conference organized by the Canadian Climate Institute. For roughly one hour, Trudeau was interviewed in front of an audience by Bloomberg climate reporter Akshat Rathi.
Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine spurred an avalanche of international sanctions that had the effect of cutting off most sources of Russian oil and gas from Western markets.
Countries such as Canada and the United States even banned imports of Russian energy outright— although neither country had ever imported significant shares of Russian petroleum.
As Europe has scrambled to find alternative sources of energy, the Trudeau government has promised a moderate increase in Canada’s production of oil and gas — but a decided lack of export infrastructure has sharply limited what can be sent overseas.
In March, Natural Resource Minister Jonathan Wilkinson promised that Canada would produce an extra 300,000 barrels per day of fossil fuels to plug European supply shortages, something that Trudeau cited at the Tuesday event.
However, with Canada having no East Coast ports equipped to export either oil or natural gas, all of these exports will have to be done via the United States.
Trudeau has previously said that is unlikely to change, in keeping with his government’s general strategy of discouraging any new oil and gas projects that will have the net effect of raising national emissions.
A notable exception was the recent federal approval of the Baie du Nord offshore oil project in Atlantic Canada.
“Any further oil plants or any further energy production is going to have to fit into our emissions reduction plan,” said Trudeau, adding that Baie du Nord fit the bill.
In August, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz even visited Canada on an explicit mission to call for increased exports of Canadian natural gas.
In response, Trudeau told the Germans there was no “business case” for Canada to sell LNG to Europe and instead took Scholz to a part of rural Newfoundland that may eventually host a plant that will produce hydrogen from offshore wind.
Trudeau did appear to make a moral case for Canadian energy on Tuesday night, saying that democracy could not survive if it was dependent on energy from autocratic regimes such as Russia.
“We can’t actually make a case that democracy is better for the world … if it’s reliant on authoritarian dictatorships,” he said.
However, Trudeau also said he wasn’t quite suggesting that the world replace Russian oil and gas with Canadian so much as the Ukraine conflict was highlighting the need for the world “to accelerate our moves off of oil and gas.”
At one point on Tuesday, Rathi directly asked Trudeau whether he was prepared to construct East Coast LNG ports to bolster European energy supplies.
The prime minister replied, “What we are saying, and what we have been saying, is that we are accelerating the transition.”
It’s a position that’s often put Trudeau at sharp odds with Alberta politicians and Canadian oil producers.
In March, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers even called on the federal government to give its explicit blessing to ramping up oil production in order to nurture “a far more stable world.”
On Tuesday night, Trudeau accused Alberta politicians of being a “political impediment” to the green economy, alleging that they were deliberately ignoring the pro-renewable sentiments of ordinary Albertans.
“Their politicians are not on their side right now,” he said.
Read more at National Post