Report estimates province will spend C$6 billion in next five years
BY GARY PARK FOR GREENING OF OIL
The Alberta government and the Canadian petroleum industry are turning promises into a gusher of spending as they try to put a greenish hue on their operations, which are fighting an uphill struggle to overcome global disapproval of the oil sands.
A new report by the Conference Board of Canada, an independent research group, estimates government and industry will invest more than C$6 billion over the next five years on advancing climate-friendly technology, far outstripping the other provinces.
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Ontario, the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, is expected to spend C$2 billion, with British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Quebec in line for about C$1 billion each.
Len Coad, the board’s director of energy, environment and technology policy, said Canada will need heavy investment from the private and public sectors if it is to meet aggressive GHG-reduction goals.
“To achieve environmental and full economic benefits, governments need to properly support homegrown commercialization of technologies and help develop Canadian clean-energy companies,” he said.
“Tapping into export markets for these new technologies would achieve even greater economic benefits.”
The report, commissioned by the Alberta government’s arm’s-length Climate Change and Emissions Management Corp., predicts C$11.8 billion will be spent in all 10 of Canada’s provinces through 2014, with the larger and more diverse economies generating more positive returns.
Ontario is expected to pump C$107 million into its real Gross Domestic Product for every C$100 million it spends because of its broader manufacturing base, which can develop and produce a wide range of technologies.
Alberta, on the other hand, is forecast to reap just C$70 million for every C$100 million spent because of its greater dependence on out-of-province suppliers, while Manitoba and British Columbia are tagged to generate more than C$80 million.
Alberta’s investments are expected to create more than 50,000 person-years of employment, followed by Ontario (29,000,) British Columbia (13,000) and Quebec (12,000.)
CCEMC already is distributing some of the C$190 million it has available to fund ideas for lowering greenhouse gas emissions.
CCEMC chairman Eric Newell, former chief executive officer of Syncrude Canada — the world’s largest producer of synthetic crude — said it is too early to assess the likely impact of that spending on GHGs, although he is confident the ideas generated will help achieve the desired goals.
“It’s just like developing new technology,” he said. “It’s going to take time to minimize our carbon footprint.”
Newell said his corporation aims to have pilot projects operating within five years and to start “bending the curve” on GHGs within 10 years.
He said it is vital for the world that Alberta develops its bitumen resources because of international forecasts of a 40 percent rise in oil demand by 2030.
“We have to figure out a cleaner way of doing it,” he said.
The board report said Alberta’s strategy for tackling GHGs shows signs of success based on the fact that emitters are taking advantage of all compliance options, which includes buying offsets, credit trading or contributing to a fund administered by CCEMC that collects C$15 per metric ton for all GHGs that exceed targets.
“The model is very well targeted, with the larger emitters putting money into the technology fund,” Newell told the Edmonton Journal. “And the money will be spent on reducing greenhouse gases, not put into general revenue.”
Contact Gary Park through Kay Cashman at firstname.lastname@example.org