A Matter of Fact: European Parliament is wrong to endorse ‘fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty’

Europe should work with Canada to accelerate oil and gas exports

By Deborah Jaremko
A view of the European Parliament building in Strasbourg, France on October 17, 2022. Getty Images photo

The European Parliament is endorsing a dangerous and misguided “fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty” that would cause harm to people around the world.  

The political forum is recommending that European Union member states phase out fossil fuels as soon as possible and stop all new investments in fossil fuel extraction.  

The implication of the “treaty” is that ongoing use of oil and gas is an imminent threat to human society as bad as the atomic bomb.  

That is wrong.  

And it’s an odd stance to take for a region where without enough natural gas, countries are facing winter emergency measures like community “warming halls” and widespread power blackouts.    

Reducing emissions from oil and gas is essential, but shutting down the industry would only hurt humanity.  

Canada is a global leader in responsible oil and gas development.  

Europe should work with Canada to accelerate oil and gas exports to ensure affordability and reliability while moving to reduce emissions. Not endorse dangerous rhetoric that would result in a more insecure world.  

Fact: The world needs oil and gas to function 

Modern life relies on oil and gas. For transportation and home heating/cooling, food supply and everyday products like your cell phone, computer and your clothes. And everything from health care items like heart valves and anesthetics to critical infrastructure like buildings, roads and bridges.  

Today, oil and gas supplies about 52 per cent of global energy needs, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). That’s projected to still be at 47 per cent in 2050, despite the rise of renewable and alternative sources.   

According to the European Commission, “adequate warmth, cooling, lighting, and energy to power appliances are essential services that underpin a decent standard of living and health. Access to energy services is essential for social inclusion.”   

Fact: Europe’s largest economy is walking back on renewable energy 

A leading architect of Germany’s “Energiewende” push towards wind and solar over coal, oil, gas and nuclear recently admitted that renewable energy alone is not sufficient to maintain reliable supply.  

“We have to acknowledge that no country in the world is able to provide 100 per cent of energy demand by renewable energies,” said Peter Altmaier, who served as federal minister for economic affairs and energy from 2018 to 2021.  

Even before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Europe was facing an energy crisis in part due to overreliance on wind power when the wind wasn’t blowing.    

Countries including Germany are now extending the life of coal-fired power plants to ensure sufficient energy supply during the coming winter.   

Germany is even dismantling wind turbines in order to expand a coal mine that supplies a power plant. The mine expansion also includes the demolition of a small town west of Cologne. 

“The challenge today is that even if you expand the capacities of renewable energies, you still will need classical traditional energies like oil and gas and nuclear,” Altmaier said.  

“We have to find solutions that are affordable and do work in practice…We have to realize that energy transition is not as simple as some people would like.”

Fact: Renewable energy is not reliable at scale to replace oil and gas 

Alternative and renewable energy is increasingly important in the world energy mix, but the reality is these technologies are not yet capable alone of providing the energy the world needs.  

This January the European Commission published draft changes to its “taxonomy,” or sustainable investor guidelines, adding natural gas and nuclear power because of their proven potential to reduce emissions while providing stable energy supply.    

Renewable energy sources “are not yet commercially available at sufficient scale” at an appropriate threshold, the commission said.    

Fact: The world’s growing population requires more energy, not less 

More than 730 million people around the world do not have access to electricity, primarily in Sub-Saharan Africa, according to the IEA. The COVID pandemic has made the situation even more challenging.  

“As if the economic devastation of the pandemic weren’t enough, we’re also faced with increasing pressure to reduce our production of fossil fuels and move toward renewables,” said NJ Ayuk, executive chairman of the African Energy Chamber. 

“Oil and gas remain critically important to meet Africa’s economic and energy needs, and that need is greater than ever.”  

The world’s population is expected to grow by about 2 billion people to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, according to United Nations forecasts.  

They will need access to abundant, affordable, reliable energy – and much of it will come from oil and gas.   

Fact: Canada is a responsible, reliable oil and gas supplier   

Canada should be the solution as European nations and countries around the world look for reliable energy suppliers while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.      

Canada’s oil sands is the world’s only major oil basin where producers have jointly committed to reach net zero emissions by 2050.  

And Canada ranks number one among the world’s top oil reserve holders for environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance.     

ESG measures a variety of metrics including greenhouse gas emissions, water use, Indigenous engagement, worker safety, diversity and inclusion, absence of violence/terrorism, and regulatory processes.  

Fact: Canada’s natural gas can help the world get off coal  

Using natural gas instead of coal to fuel power plants reduces emissions by about 50 per cent on average, the IEA says.     

Liquefied natural gas (LNG) carried by tanker from Canada can deliver an even bigger decrease, reducing emissions by up to 62 per cent, according to a 2020 study published in the Journal for Cleaner Production.        

Global LNG demand is expected to nearly double to reach 700 million tonnes in 2040, according to Shell’s latest report. The rise is driven by emerging economies working to get off coal power. 

The world’s growing population requires abundant, reliable, affordable energy in order to thrive. Canada is the solution to provide the responsible energy the world needs.  

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