Shunning oilsands fuel could save money and create jobs: Greenpeacereport.
OTTAWA September 8 - Canadians could save billions of dollars while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and creating thousands of jobs if the country plots a new energy strategy that turns away from the oilsands industry, says a new report to be released on Thursday.
The study, produced by the European Renewable Energy Council and Greenpeace International, is being released in advance of a world energy conference in Montreal and suggests that the oilsands sector could become obsolete by 2050 through domestic and international policies that reduce demand for the resource.
The report, Energy (R)evolution, authored by Greenpeace International campaigner Sven Teske, proposes a series of measures and different scenarios that could result from business as usual or a co-ordinated strategy to invest in renewable energy technology solutions, reduce subsidies for fossil fuels, and promote more efficient uses of energy.
`The days of `cheap oil and gas' are coming to an end,'' said the report. ``Uranium, the fuel for nuclear power, is also a finite resource. This report demonstrates that, by contrast, the global technical potential for renewable energy can supply about six times more power than the world currently consumes - forever.''
The report, which is based on statistics compiled by the International Energy Agency, estimates that a new strategy could drive down demand for oil through aggressive regulations and investments promoting more efficient vehicles, public transit and a shift toward electric vehicles. Although the cost of energy for consumers could increase in the short term under a new strategy, the report estimates that each Canadian would save $135 per year or about $5.3 billion on their average energy bills over the next 40 years by promoting clean energy.
The report also recommends strong regulations to promote renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power in the power grid to reduce emissions associated with coal or oil, and a more advanced design of grids to reduce waste.
It estimates that low-impact renewable energy could supply 96 per cent of electricity and 92 per cent of total heating needs by 2050 under a new clean energy strategy. Renewable sources of energy would also rise gradually from 15 per cent of primary energy demand up to 74 per cent of demand by 2050, with a 50 per cent drop in demand through aggressive energy efficiency measures, along with an increase in reliance on wind, solar and similar sources.
The report also suggests the strategy could promote a global expansion of 12 million jobs, including 77,000 jobs in Canada's renewable energy sectors by 2030, with a 95 per cent drop in energy-related greenhouse gas emissions in Canada by 2050.
``The sustainable future of the planet will not be brought about by further subsidizing of dirty and finite fossil fuels, but by investment in people and local communities who can install and maintain renewable energy sources,'' said the report.
Oilsands industry emissions have more than tripled since 1990 and are expected to continue rising in the future. But industry and government officials have often suggested that the oilsands sector faces unfair criticism and that it is actually facing some of the toughest regulations in the world.
Greenpeace Canada climate and energy campaigner Keith Stewart explained that the report is meant to promote a discussion with industry on how the country can meet rising energy demands and prices, without increasing its environmental footprint.
He said that under an aggressive strategy to promote clean energy, there would be less consumption of oil and, as a result, no market for oil from the oilsands. Unconventional oil now accounts for about two per cent of total global oil production, according to International Energy Agency statistics.
``We're publishing this because we want to have a debate based on facts and that's something that the industry has said they want as well,'' said Stewart. ``So we invite them to publish a comparable assessment of what their proposed energy strategy would mean for consumers' energy bills, for job creation and for greenhouse gas emissions.''
He added that while the Harper government has often promoted Canada as a clean energy superpower, it has not adopted adequate regulations and policies to define what ``clean'' actually means. He said it's the equivalent of having friends tell you they want to lose weight, but are not prepared to change their eating and exercising habits.
``If you're a good friend, you're going to tell them: `That's probably not going to work out for you and either you're fooling yourself or you're trying to fool me, because we both know that's not going to work,''' he said. ``We do actually need a vision of what Canada would look like if we're moving off of fossil fuels, and the way the scientists say we have to.''