By Anthony Capkun
March 9, 2017 – I can’t say I’m very familiar with Jim Carr, Canada’s minister of Natural Resources, but I stumbled upon—and have to applaud—the speech he gave at the Energy Council of Canada’s “Canadian Energy Industry: Updates and Insights” event in Ottawa back in February.
During his talk, Carr noted the world is in the midst of a “gradual move” away from traditional sources of energy toward new (clean) ones, but conceded some Canadians feel a clean energy future could be jeopardized with the government’s recent approval of pipeline projects.
“The operative word is gradual,” Carr reminded.
For my part, I’ve met and chatted with numerous Canadians across the country, and a lot are like me: we see decarbonization as a good thing, but see it happening gradually over a long transition period. This period represents great opportunities for electrical professionals in the realms of energy-efficient products, controls, energy management, and so on.
Other Canadians typically fall into one of two camps: those who want 100% clean energy tomorrow, and those who would burn fossil fuels until they ran out.
“For those who would want to move to 100% clean energy immediately, the pace can seem frustratingly slow […] But the reality is we’re not there yet,” Carr admitted. It is impractical, he continued, to just wave a magic wand and say “No more pipelines”: we would lose jobs across Canada (not just Alberta) and be forced to import energy, and governments at all levels would lose tax revenues from the oil companies.
Meantime, Carr noted we already have a solution for significantly cutting GHG emissions by the middle of the century: According to the International Energy Agency, energy efficiencies can get us almost halfway there.
“Imagine if it was announced tomorrow that some new technology could get us halfway to meeting our climate change goals? It would be the lead story on every newscast and every newspaper around the world, and rightly so. […] And yet that breakthrough already exists. We just have to use it.”
So why aren’t we all rushing out and retrofitting our homes and businesses with the latest energy-efficient technologies? Why haven’t we all run out and purchased an electric vehicle?
“It’s because it’s not always possible or practical to make those changes all at once,” Carr said. “It’s the same with governments […] We have to rely on the old, even as we introduce the new.”
Well said, Mr. Carr.
• Anthony Capkun, Editor • firstname.lastname@example.org .
Read Jim Carr’s whole speech on NRCan’s website at tinyurl.com/j5cbdde.
* This column also appears in the March 2017 edition of Electrical Business Magazine.