Chambers come together to support Canada’s Natural Resources
July 26, 2019
Our natural resource economy impacts Canadian families from coast-to-coast and has positively impacted Canadians for generations. Whether it is oil and gas, hydro, nuclear, wind, or solar, our natural resources are a foundational piece of Canada’s economic fabric. Missing however is a full appreciation and understanding of the vital, and direct, relationship between Canadian energy and the well-being of households and communities, not only in Canada but around the world. For too long we have made the distinction that the energy sector is split between oil and gas and renewable energy.
Across the country, all forms of energy generate direct and indirect wealth for the country and are at the forefront of innovation that allows us to adopt as well as create new and increasingly efficient technologies. These technologies in turn allow Canada to remain a leader in responsibly produced energy that is seeing an increase in demand worldwide. We currently have the opportunity to be a world leader in energy innovation and natural resource development.
Yet, we are struggling to realize our potential. We continue to have divisive conversations about our future, which in trying economic times does not move anyone forward. Instead, we must start having ‘and’ conversations that bring together business leaders and citizens alike. Conversations that look at the Canadian energy industry and the potential it holds to fight climate change locally and globally.
That’s why, starting at the end of May and leading up to the federal election in the fall, the Canadian Global Cities Council (CGCC), a group consisting of Chambers of Commerce and Boards of Trade from eight of the largest urban centres across the country, are working together to bring a pan-Canadian focus to Canada’s energy industry. The Canadians for Natural Resources campaign has one goal: to be a unifying voice in all regions of Canada, highlighting that we can be world leaders in both resource extraction and renewable energy.
Canada’s natural resource economy impacts Canadian families from coast-to-coast by providing more than 1.82 million direct and indirect jobs. However, in many cases we have become our own worst enemy in speaking about the benefits that the energy industry currently brings to our economy and the potential it offers for a clean energy future around the world.
Whether it is advocating against policy that creates barriers to growth or seeking resolution to cross-provincial tensions delaying the construction of major energy projects, as Canadians we haven’t done a very good job speaking to one another about the vital relationship we have with energy. Our inability to have frank and direct ‘kitchen table’ discussions about our energy future puts jobs and healthy communities from coast to coast at risk. The goal of our campaign is to change that. We are aiming to provide information to Canadians so that we can all have informed conversations about our energy industry.
The approval of the Trans Mountain Expansion project is a step in the right direction in achieving both. Canada’s natural resources sector already holds itself to some of the highest standards in the world when it comes to environmental stewardship. This has resulted in continued reduction of emissions intensity as resources are extracted in Canada. By exporting Canadian technology and natural resources globally, we can offset higher emitting fuel sources such as coal and increase the impact we have on global GHG emissions. However, effective legislation and approval of projects that increase access to global markets must be remain a priority for all levels of government.
But this conversation with Canadians goes well beyond the importance of our natural resource economy. It also speaks directly to how this country’s diverse energy mix and its technological and environmental prowess can be a global game changer.
Canada is quickly becoming a world leader in wind, solar, and hydro energy. Harnessing the existing markets and the variance in inherent resource-based capacities across the country will allow Canada to maintain its role as a global leader in the emerging renewable energy sector. Diversity in natural resources between provinces strengthens Canada’s claim to be a global leader in all sources of renewable and traditional energy. It gives us a unique opportunity to look holistically at our entire energy sector and devote the country’s efforts in developing an increasingly diverse energy mix.
While this would clearly provide positive economic benefits, it also presents an opportunity to meaningfully reduce global emissions.
With proper regulations and infrastructure and a united voice, Canada can lead the responsible development of energy to meet growing global demand, while continuing to develop and adopt new and innovative technologies to further reduce GHG emissions at home and abroad. Industry groups representing businesses operating in Canada’s natural resource sector have shared similar ideas and are unified in promoting our country’s economic prosperity.
This balance of getting world prices for our natural resources and a concrete path towards a lower carbon economy domestically is what we want Canadians from coast-to-coast to vote for when this campaign concludes. This crucial ‘and’ conversation will not only help the Canadian economy grow, but also amplify the impact that responsibly-produced Canadian energy can have on reducing GHG emissions globally.