Canadians Want a Clean Energy Future
One goal of the Premier’s conference last month was to develop a national energy strategy. That did not happen. According to news reports, this failure occurred because Premier Christy Clark would not agree to any general energy strategy unless BC and Alberta could reach some agreement in their current dispute. Clark had laid down five conditions that would need to be met if the proposed Keystone oil pipeline, promoted by Alberta, was to pass through BC. The single condition that is generating the most controversy has to do with the sharing of the revenues resulting from the export of the bitumen/oil.
At first glance there seems to be much wisdom in such a stance: if we can’t agree on the detail on this specific aspect of energy development, what’s the point of talking about general agreements. The devil is in the detail.
But on second thought, much of that wisdom evaporates. The dispute seems to be about who gets what revenue. The dispute framed that way assumes the resource, bitumen/oil, ought to be developed, exported and sold. But should and do Canadians accept this assumption?
A new survey commissioned by Tides Canada speaks to this. The results are striking. According to this new poll, Canadians believe the country needs an energy plan that reduces fossil fuel dependence, cuts energy waste, creates more clean-energy jobs, fights climate change, and sets aside a portion of oil wealth to help prepare for a clean and renewable energy future.
“Citizens are hungry for a smart plan that will move the nation forward on the emerging global clean-energy opportunity and tackle climate change at the same time,” says Merran Smith, director of the energy initiative at Tides Canada.
Tides Canada commissioned Harris/Decima to do the survey. Canadians were asked to indicate to what degree they would prioritize a series of objectives for a potential Canadian energy strategy. They identified as a “top” or “high” priority “improving energy efficiency” (82 percent), “creating more jobs in clean energy” (75 percent), “reducing Canada’s carbon pollution to slow down climate change” (66 percent), and “reducing our reliance on fossil fuels like oil, gas and coal” (66 percent).
In contrast, only 33 percent of those surveyed placed a “top” or “high” priority on “exporting more of Canada’s oil and gas resources.”
Meanwhile, 82 percent of those surveyed said that they either “strongly agree” or “somewhat agree” that “Canada should set aside a portion of its oil wealth to help prepare the nation for a clean and renewable energy future.”
The idea of a Canadian energy strategy resonates strongly with citizens. Fully 87 percent of those surveyed either “strongly” or “somewhat” agree with the statement “the nation needs a Canadian energy strategy to plan its energy future.”
Oh that our governments would listen!