Opinion: Setting the pace for responsible development — how Canada’s energy industry is leading the charge

Energy security and environmental sustainability will both be a critical part of our energy future. Achieving the right balance is a global issue that requires co-operation and innovation on an international scale. And while these two priorities often conflict, they are also achievable — with the answer here in our backyard.

Canadian natural gas can meet increasing energy demand, lower global emissions and support the economic prosperity of countries both abroad and here at home. Canadian natural gas is abundant and has a lower emissions profile than other energy sources such as coal, which is still powering one-third of the world’s total energy requirements.

When we look at Asia, the case for Canadian natural gas is compelling. Converting just 20 per cent of Asia’s coal-fired power generation to Canadian natural gas would decrease global GHG emissions by an estimated 680 megatonnes (MT) of CO2 per year. To put this into perspective, this is more than all of Canada’s annual GHG emissions of 672 MT. These are the kinds of benefits Canadian energy can offer to the world.

Recently, the discussion regarding the tug of war between energy security and environmental sustainability has begun to shift, with energy security moving to the forefront. Geopolitical events have certainly contributed to this dynamic. In Europe, for example, as countries transitioned from Russian energy, we saw nations such as Germany temporarily introduce more coal-fired generation to ensure access to adequate and affordable energy.

And while energy security is at the forefront today, the focus on environmental sustainability is equally important. Maintaining balance as we consider how to move forward is critical — we must be pragmatic, innovative and take swift action.

“And while energy security is at the forefront today, the focus on environmental sustainability is equally important. Maintaining balance as we consider how to move forward is critical — we must be pragmatic, innovative and take swift action.”

According to the United Nations, by 2050 the world’s population is expected to increase by approximately two billion and, with it, global consumption of materials is expected to double. At the heart of these staggering statistics is energy.

Most scenarios forecast natural gas demand growing until 2050 and beyond. While renewables scale up and the design of the energy system evolves, natural gas offers an economical, reliable and lower carbon solution that is readily available now. These attributes can support the intermittent nature of renewables and maintain balance as energy diversification progresses. The question then becomes: Who is best positioned to meet this need?

This is where Canada can truly shine. For decades, our energy industry has been quietly leading the way in responsible development. As a nation, we arguably have the most stringent regulatory system in the world.

A continued focus on innovation has also contributed to significant enhancements in the Canadian industry’s ESG performance. Billions have been invested in developing clean technologies. Today, industry is making meaningful strides in areas including carbon capture, utilization and storage, clean hydrogen, and small modular nuclear reactors.

“Our leadership in the social aspects of energy development also demonstrates how a strong energy industry can support Indigenous economic reconciliation, create good jobs and contribute to the overall prosperity of Canada.”

Liquefied natural gas provides the best opportunity to move our responsibly produced natural gas to markets overseas. Given the proximity to Asia, approved and identified export facilities off Canada’s west coast have the ability to cut shipping times, reduce the carbon footprint associated with transportation and offset higher emission energy sources where demand is growing.

The expected startup of LNG Canada in 2025 will significantly accelerate these efforts. Phase 1 alone will export approximately 11 per cent of the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin’s current production — representing a step change in demand, virtually overnight. The recent environmental approval of Cedar LNG and what is to be Canada’s first Indigenous-majority-owned facility is also good news.

So, to the question of who is best positioned to supply the world’s energy needs — the answer could not be clearer. Canada produces some of the most ethical, low-cost, and low-emissions natural gas in the world. Every cubic foot delivered overseas will lower global emissions and provide reliable, affordable and low-emissions energy to our international partners. We have both an obligation and an opportunity to support our allies — we just need to seize it.

Terry Anderson is president and CEO of Arc Resources

This story was originally published in The Calgary Herald on June 10, 2023. 


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