Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Green Shift gone but not forgotten.

The Green Shift has been dropped like a hot potato just as was Dion. Ignatieff has defended Oil Sands aka as Tar Sands production. Perhaps Ignatieff will adopt the earlier Liberal tactics on the environment eventually: talk a great line probably praising and micicking the rhetoric of Obama but then do little or nothing as the party did when it was in power. Of course there is always the tried and true and indeed truthful enough claim that the Conservatives have done little.


Green shift gone but not forgotten TheStar.com - columnists - Green shift gone but not forgotten

May 18, 2009 Thomas S. AxworthyChair of the Centre for the Study of Democracy, Queen's University
BERLIN – St├ęphane Dion announced at the recent Liberal convention in Vancouver that he would be staying in politics. This is a good thing because a future Liberal government will have great need of his intelligence, commitment and stubbornness in dealing with climate change.
The world is in economic crisis but we cannot allow this to delay the actions urgently required to secure energy supplies and to tackle emissions and greenhouse gases. This was the conclusion of the InterAction Council, which convened a conference this month on "Energy Availability and Environmental Concerns" attended by former ministers, senior officials and experts both from producing nations like Saudi Arabia and Russia and from consumer nations like Germany, France and Japan.
Majid Al-Moneef, the OPEC governor for Saudi Arabia, laid out the basic facts on energy that few in the conference could dispute. For a good part of the last century and continuing until today, oil and gas have been the primary energy sources. Currently they account for 60 per cent of global energy consumption and despite all the efforts to lessen dependency on them, they will continue to have a commanding role at least until 2030.
The energy landscape is not static. Energy markets are complex, diversified and globalized with great shifts taking place within the sector. Energy conservation, for example, has worked in the OECD countries with their oil consumption slowing down in the past three decades to 0.6 per cent annually, but this has been more than made up by the 4 per cent annual growth in consumption in the developing world. China, India and growth in the Middle East itself will account for 80 per cent of future oil demand. Thus, despite all the public attention to renewables and the overwhelming challenge of climate change, fossil fuels will continue to meet 80 per cent of global energy needs for the foreseeable future.
Oil, therefore, is still king and will continue to reign for at least the next three decades. This reality has sobering security, economic and environmental implications. Energy security will continue to be the essence of geopolitics.
Energy volatility, too, is one of the reasons that the world economy is suffering. Starting in 2004, China increased its oil demand by 2.4 million barrels a day and this was one reason that the price of oil shot up to $140 per barrel by 2008 (only to fall back to less than half this amount today). Development of Canada's oil sands will require an oil price of $87 to justify investment in new projects.
Most alarmingly, if fossil fuels continue to provide 80 per cent of tomorrow's energy needs, the impact on climate change will be horrendous. If the world continues to depend on fossil fuels, the development of carbon capture and sequestration techniques will have to be an international priority at least as great as maintaining energy security. Malcolm Wicks, the former United Kingdom minister of energy told the conference: "The future of climate change depends on carbon capture."
U.S. President Barack Obama is promising a "Green New Deal" to double solar, wind and biomass supply capacity in three years. Obama wants to make environmental sustainability the centrepiece of a new American economy.
This was exactly the promise of Dion's green shift platform in the 2008 election. Dion may have failed to sell his plan effectively to voters but he was on the right track in committing the Liberal party to making the environment a core concern.
The Liberal party must build on the green shift initiative by turning Canada into not only an "energy superpower," as Stephen Harper advocates, but also an "environmental superpower," especially on carbon capture.
We will need St├ęphane Dion in a future Liberal government to make sure this happens.

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