Canadian government thinktank warns that renewables will gut market for Canada's dirty oil

For a decade, Canada's previous petro-tory government prosecuted scientists who publicly reported their results without first passing them through the party's commissars, almost as though reality had a well-known left-wing bias and couldn't be trusted.

Stephen Harper's Tories have been out of office for less than a year and now we're starting to learn what Canada's researchers had been unable to tell the country about the state of the land and the world. Most recently, Policy Horizons Canada — a Canadian government think-tank that focuses on medium-term predictions — has warned the government that global adoption of renewables is coming on faster than predicted, and shows signs of accelerating, which means that Canada's economy is in danger — thanks to a decade of orienting the country around exporting some of the dirtiest oil on the planet, at the expense of high-tech manufacturing industries.

Independent analysts and business-people who've reviewed the report — published after a public records request by CBC — say that, aside from minor quibbles, they agree with its findings.

The report specifically calls out Canada's plan to build a wildly unpopular pipeline to transport tar-sand oil to foreign markets.

The 2015 Canadian election was won by Justin Trudeau's Liberal Party, who tacked to the left of the New Democratic Party, whose own leadership had tacked right, a move that cost it the seats it won in an unprecedented surge during the previous election.

A recent party convention ousted the NDP's leader and adopted Naomi Klein's Leap Manifesto, which calls for decarbonizing the Canadian economy.

That, in turn, caused a rift in the NDP: the Alberta party leadership (who took office in the oil patch's stronghold in 2015) decrying the national party as out-of-touch and unrealistic.

The report suggests that the national NDP was more in touch with future reality than the Alberta party knew. Meanwhile the report predicts that rare earths and conflict minerals are likely to occupy the niche currently enjoyed by oil, and shift economic power to some of the world's poorest countries.

The document was obtained by CBC News under an access to information request and shared with two experts — one in Alberta, one in British Columbia — who study the energy industry.

Both experts described its forecasts for global energy markets as more or less in line with what a growing number of analysts believe.

"It's absolutely not pie in the sky," said Michal Moore from the University of Calgary's School of Public Policy. "These folks are being realistic — they may not be popular, but they're being realistic."

Marty Reed, CEO of Evok Innovations — a Vancouver-based cleantech fund created through a $100-million partnership with Cenovus and Suncor — had a similar take after reading the draft report.

"You could nit-pick a couple of items," he said. "But at a high level, I would say the vast, vast majority of what they wrote is not even controversial, it's very well accepted."

Canada's energy superpower status threatened as world shifts off fossil fuel, federal think-tank warns
[Robson Fletcher/CBC]

(Image: Canadian national exhibition and windmill, J Rawls, CC-BY)

(via Naked Capitalism)