“We do not have an opinion on that”:
statement February 9, 2022, to Parliamentary Committee
During the past year, a series of major reports about oil production, dealing with both global production and Canada’s own oil industry, have highlighted our predicament: the incompatibility between ambitions by Canada and other major oil producing countries to continue increasing their own oil production, and the damning scientific evidence that total production worldwide must decline 50% by 2040 to give us even a 50-50 chance to limit warming to 1.5°C.
The leading international study, by the International Energy Agency, summarizes its findings in this graph. The top blue line (“STEPS”) depicts the global oil production path we are presently on to 2030. The sharply declining green line (“NZE”) shows the magnitude of the cuts in world oil production needed by 2030 to keep us on a pathway that will give us a 50-50 chance to limit global heating to less than 1.5°C. It shows the complete divide between the present intentions of our government and what human beings need to do within the next nine years.
Global oil production was 98 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2019 (it dropped during Covid). Under current policies, it is expected to rise to at least 103 million bpd by 2030. To give us a realistic chance to avoid the worst, it must decline to about 74 million bpd by 2030. The discrepancy, sometimes referred to as the “production gap”, is about 30 million bpd.
Canada is the world’s fourth largest oil producer and accounts for about 5% of total production. A report released on December 9, 2021, by the Government of Canada’s energy regulator projects that our output will to grow from 4.9 million bpd in 2019 to 5.8 million bpd by 2032, a 19% increase. Canada plans to maintain high production levels for another 20 years after that, with a slight decline by 2050 down to 4.8 million – a 2% reduction below the 2019 level.
The contradiction between the ambitions of individual oil producing states (including Canada) and the unforgiving global limits and timelines to 2030 and the much deeper cuts required by 2040 is plain and inescapable.
And yet, in the public and political discussion in Canada about climate policy, neither the Trudeau government nor individual Federal Ministers, and (with one or two individual exceptions) none of the elected Members of Parliament in the three large cross-Canada parties (Liberal, the NDP party, and the Conservative party) will talk about the need to curb Canada’s oil production. Bloc Quebecois MPs have spoken with candour and urgency on the need to begin to reduce our oil production. This paper delves into one very recent event, a hearing that took place on February 9, 2022, before the Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources, when witnesses, including the Co-chair of the government-appointed Net-Zero Advisory Body, were called to testify about a proposed plan to “cap” GHG emission in Canada’s oil and gas sector.
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