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Three energy ministers agree: energy strategy is essential to economic recovery

If Canada is to successfully move a lower-carbon energy mix, we must leverage regional strengths and support innovation – and keep energy affordable and reliable.

On November 2, 2021, the Economic Club of Canada (ECC) hosted an online event titled “Energy Summit: Canada’s Unique Energy Opportunity.” This timely discussion offered opinions and insights from experts and policy makers across Canada at the same time as delegates from around the world gathered in Glasgow, Scotland at COP 26 to discuss climate change.

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Panelists at the ECC event represented a variety of Canadian and international organizations, such as the Canadian Gas Association, the International Energy Agency, the Oxford Institute of Energy Studies, and the Indigenous Resource Network.

Read more: 10 ways natural gas and oil supports Canada’s economic recovery

Energy ministers discuss transition, innovation

Of particular note was a conversation among three energy ministers from across the country: Sonya Savage, Minister of Energy, Alberta; Andrew Parsons, Minister of Industry, Energy and Technology, Newfoundland and Labrador; and Todd Smith, Minister of Energy, Ontario. The session was moderated by Shannon Joseph, vice-president, Government and Indigenous Affairs, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

Read more: The role of natural gas and oil in meeting Paris Agreement goals

Energy Future must Include all forms of Energy

Under the title “Canada’s Energy Opportunity: A Regional Lens” the speakers first presented the current energy landscape within their province, then offered views on how Canada’s energy future must include all available energy sources and the interconnected nature of Canada’s overall energy system. While each minister underscored the diversity in their province’s energy sources, there was a common theme: global demand for oil and natural gas will continue. 

Energy System in Transition

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“Canada’s energy system is in transition,” noted Minister Parsons. “We are starting to see renewable sources taking a larger role but traditional energy sources like oil and natural gas will be needed for decades – and these forms of energy are not mutually exclusive. Each region of Canada needs to capitalize on strengths, find the best potential for success in reducing emissions. We need strategic development. In addition, federal, provincial and private investment is key to any form of energy / resource development and especially to support innovation.”

Read more: Global demand for natural gas and oil on the rise: IEA

Oil Sands Moving to Net Zero

Minister Savage agreed, saying, “As an industry and as a province, we know we need to lower emissions and we are, aggressively. Government and industry investment is indeed essential to developing technology that drives down emissions. The world will continue to need and use oil and natural gas – that means we must do more and better to reduce emissions. There’s exciting work in the oil sands moving toward net zero, doing what it takes to get carbon out of the barrel. I’m especially excited by carbon capture and storage. Investment and deployment of that technology is key and Alberta is very well positioned to realize that opportunity.”

Read more: Commentary: Canadian LNG can lower global emissions

Read more: Proposed Alberta Carbon Grid

“Each jurisdiction must reach emission targets by whatever means are available,” observed Minister Smith. “Provinces should have the ability to leverage their own best strengths and approaches.”

“Transformation is not simple. Economic impacts we’re seeing around the world make it clear we can’t move off oil and natural gas without reliable, affordable alternatives.”

Sonya Savage, Minister of Energy, Alberta