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Fossil fuel sector contrasts: Green transition engaged, but not enough

Not all fossil fuel companies the same

Not all Big Oil firms are alike. Some are engaged in a rapid green migration, many are sitting on the fence and others are still in climate denial. Meanwhile, the value of fossil fuel assets are declining but the industry is camouflaging this by selling assets and debt financing to keep shareholders happy.

Why coal can’t make America great again

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Among the ways Donald Trump vows to “make America great again” is reviving the US coal industry. That’s a stretch considering the plight coal faces today in the US. 

The combined value of the top four US coal companies fell from $33 billion in 2011 to $150 million in 2015. Coal’s declining role in the US power supply saw it go from 50% in 2006 to 42% in 2011, to 30% in 2016. US coal production dropped 19% in 2016 alone. In 2015, between 11 gigawatts (GW) and 14 GW of US coal capacity went off line.

As Big Oil tanks, why is Canada so slow to adapt?

The business model of Big Oil has already started to collapse.  The model is premised on strong growth to fuel high prices and render economically viable the exploitation of expensive-to-develop, non-conventional fossil fuels, including the tar sands and shale oil and gas.

Note to Justin: Pipelines don’t help transition to green economy

When Justin Trudeau talks of oil pipeline projects as part of an energy transition, what exactly is he talking about?

That we will be on the path to reducing our dependency on fossil fuels by increasing our oil dependency in the short term? And that by immaculate conception we will reduce these very same dependencies over the long term? Supposedly, we will switch to a green economy sometime between now and when we are all dead, with the help of Adam Smith’s “invisible hand”.

Despite Trump & Trudeau’s pipeline fetish, green economy will keep booming

US President-Elect Trump (Flickr/Gage Skidmore) and Canadian PM Trudeau (Flickr/Canada 2020) are both big on pipelines

Forces at play suggest there will continue to be significant advancements in the global migration to a green economy.  Trudeau and Trump are rowing against the current.

Electric Vehicles are set to take off…so why is Trudeau still pushing pipelines?

Tesla Model 3 at March 2016 unveiling (Steve Jurvetson/Flickr)

In my previous March 2016 article “Pipelines to Nowhere“, I made the point that the proposed Canadian pipelines are about increasing the international supply of petroleum when all the signs are that demand fossil fuels are levelling off over the longer term.

Trudeau abandons green election promises, lacks real climate plan

Justin Trudeau talking a good game at the Global Progress summit (Canada 2020/Flickr)

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” -Albert Einstein

With the recent National Energy Board approval of the Kinder Morgan pipeline and Justin Trudeau’s enthusiastic post-election remarks to the effect that Canada can build pipelines and address climate change concurrently, it is time to take stock of just where the current government is heading us. 

China’s war on coal means lots more renewable energy…and fracking

Shale gas is a big component of China’s future energy plans

China has declared war on coal and coal consumption is down as a result. But this coal war offers some good news, some not so good news for Canada, and some bad news, all at the same time.

Green jobs see huge growth globally: Why is Canada missing out?

There are those like Stephen Harper who repeatedly say we must choose between economic development and sustainable development.

And there are those who, concerned about the environment and the latest reports from the International Panel on Climate Change, suggest that economic development and sustainable development should be reconciled.  Countries such as Germany are often cited as cases in point.  Most environmental organizations fall into this latter reconciliation category.

Europe leads the way on building a green economy

The European Union has fast become the global leader on migrating to a green economy, with its Emissions Trading System (cap and trade scheme) in place since 2005. Canada has much to learn from the current and future EU debates on establishing new targets for 2030 – particularly how to fast-forward its badly lagging green economy following the next federal election in 2015.

Germany shows a thriving green economy is possible

When Prime Minister Harper is challenged on his environmental record, one of his standard replies is that between economic development and sustainable development, he must give priority to the economy. While it suits Harper’s ideological agenda to imply that economic and environmental objectives are opposing forces, the facts suggest otherwise.

China’s chaotic leap forward to a green economy

When most people talk of China and its environmental and energy challenges, they tend to paint a very bleak picture.  While this view is historically justified, things are changing fast in today’s China.

Criticism of China’s environmental record has been traditionally well-justified. After all, China:  1) displaced the US as the world’s largest energy consumer as of 2009 – doubling its energy consumption between 2000 and 2009; 2) produces the world’s  highest pollution levels, with 16 of the top 20 most-polluted cities in the world being in China; and 3) now has total annual vehicle sales higher than that of the US.

Canada’s Green Economy needs public investment

Both the Intergovernmental Panel and Climate Change and the International Energy Agency have concluded that public policies, rather than the availability of resources, are among the key determinants for a shift from fossil fuels to clean technology development and deployment.  Public banks are critical agents for change along these lines.

Public financial institutions and the green economy around the world

Starting with some of the largest public banks, in July 2013, both the World Bank and the European Investment Bank announced that they will limit to the bare minimum investments in fossil fuel projects, while shifting the lion’s share of their respective energy investments to renewables.