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Canadian Energy Centre

COP28 should be the last COP

Published

18 minute read

From Energy Talking Points

CIP By Alex Epstein

COPs are immoral because they deprive billions of the energy they need to prosper. They should be replaced by energy freedom conferences.

Myth: UN COP climate conferences have been a force for good, but COP 28 must lead to far more “climate action.”

Truth: These conferences are immoral because they deprive billions of the energy they need to prosper.

They should be replaced by energy freedom conferences.

Introduction

  • The leadup to the COP 28 climate conference has had a consistent theme: previous COPs have done an okay job of restricting fossil fuels in the name of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but this one needs to restrict fossil fuel use far faster so as to reach net-zero by 2050.

    This is 180° wrong.1 COP quotes

  • COP 28’s net-zero agenda—i.e., rapid elimination of fossil fuels—is unnecessary, and pursuing it faster would be catastrophic because
    1. Fossil fuels are making us far safer from climate.
    2. Even barely implementing COP’s net-zero agenda has been disastrous.

Fossil fuels are making us far safer from climate

The justification of COP 28’s net-zero agenda is that fossil fuel use is causing an escalating “climate crisis.”

But if we factor in fossil fuels’ many climate benefits and carefully weigh fossil fuels’ climate side-effects, the opposite is true.

  • Factoring in fossil fuels’ “climate mastery benefits”

    One huge benefit we get from fossil fuels is the ability to master climate danger—e.g., fossil-fueled cooling, heating, irrigation—which can potentially neutralize fossil fuels’ negative climate impacts.

  • Example of fossil-fueled climate mastery overwhelming negative impacts: Drought.

    Any contribution of rising CO2 to drought has been overwhelmed by fossil-fueled irrigation and crop transport, which have helped reduce drought deaths by more than 100 times over 100 years as CO2 levels have risen.2 Drought deaths

  • Even though we obviously need to factor in fossil fuels’ climate mastery benefits, our designated experts totally fail to do this.

    E.g., the UN IPCC’s multi-thousand-page reports totally omit fossil-fueled climate mastery! That’s like a polio report omitting the polio vaccine.

  • Carefully weighing fossil fuels’ climate side-effects

    With rising greenhouse gasses we must be even-handed, considering both negatives (more heatwaves) and positives (fewer cold deaths). And we must be precise, not equating some impact with huge impact.

  • Even though we obviously need to factor in both negative and positive impacts of rising CO2 with precision, most designated experts ignore big positives (e.g., global greening) while catastrophizing negatives (e.g., Gore portrays 20 feet sea level rise as imminent when extreme UN projections are 3 feet/100years).3
  • Every report you hear about fossil fuels having made climate more dangerous commits at least one of 2 fallacies: ignoring the enormous climate mastery benefits of fossil fuels or wildly exaggerating negative climate side-effects of fossil fuels. Here’s how the prestigious IPCC does both.4

    Alex Epstein – The IPCC’s perversion of science

    The IPCC's perversion of science

  • If we do factor in fossil fuels’ enormous climate mastery benefits and carefully weigh their climate side-effects, we find that fossil fuels are a tremendous climate net-positive and will remain so in the future.
  • Myth: We are more endangered than ever by climate because of fossil fuels’ CO2 emissions.

    Truth: We have a 98% decline in climate disaster deaths due to our enormous fossil-fueled climate mastery abilities: heating and cooling, infrastructure-building, irrigation, crop transport.5 Climate deaths

  • Myth: Climate-related disaster X shows that fossil fuels are making climate unlivable.

    Truth: If we look at trends, not anecdotes, the drastic decline in extreme weather deaths shows that fossil fuels have made our naturally dangerous climate more livable than ever.6 Storm deaths

  • Myth: Even if climate-related disaster deaths are down, climate-related damages are way up, pointing to a bankrupting climate future.

    Truth: Even though there are many incentives for climate damages to go up—prefs for riskier areas, government bailouts—GDP-adjusted damages are flat.7 Weather disaster losses

  • Myth: Even if we’re safe from climate now, we can expect future emissions to lead to disaster.

    Truth: Since today’s unprecedented safety exists after over 100 years of rising CO2, and with ~1° C warming, we should be skeptical that further CO2 rises will somehow overwhelm us.

  • Myth: Mainstream science shows that rising CO2 is an “existential threat” that will soon cause global catastrophe and then apocalypse.

    Truth: Mainstream science shows that rising CO2 levels will lead to levels of warming and other changes that we can master and flourish with.

  • Myth: Future warming is ominous because heat-related death is already such a catastrophic problem.

    Truth: Even though Earth has gotten 1°C warmer, far more people still die from cold than heat (even in India)! Near-term warming is expected to decrease temperature-related mortality.8 Heat and cold deaths

  • Myth: Future warming is ominous because it will be worst in hot areas.

    Truth: The mainstream view in climate science is that more warming will be concentrated in colder places (Northern latitudes) and at colder times (nighttime) and during colder seasons (winter). Good news.9 Temperature projections

  • Myth: Future warming will accelerate as CO2 levels rise.

    Truth: Mainstream science is unanimous that the “greenhouse effect” is a diminishing effect, with additional CO2 leading to less warning.

    Even IPCC’s most extreme, far-fetched scenarios show warming leveling off.10

  • Myth: We face catastrophically rapid sea level rises, which will destroy and submerge coastal cities.

    Truth: Extreme UN sea level rise projections are just 3 feet in 100 years. Future generations can master that. (We already have 100 million people living below high-tide sea level.)11 Sea level projections

  • Myth: Hurricane intensity is expected to get catastrophically higher as temperatures rise.

    Truth: Mainstream estimates say hurricanes will be less frequent and between 1-10% more intense at 2° C warming. This is not at all catastrophic if we continue our fossil-fueled climate mastery.12 Warming and hurricanes

  • Myth: Science says that if we hit 1.5 or 2° C warming since the 1800s we face catastrophe followed by apocalypse.

    Truth: The 1.5-2° C number is activist fiction. The mastery abilities that have made life far better through 1° C warming will continue to keep us safe.13

Even barely implementing the net-zero agenda has been disastrous.

While COP 28 leaders bemoan how slow their restriction of fossil fuel use in pursuit of net-zero has been, even “slow” restriction has caused a global energy crisis. “Aggressive climate action” = global catastrophe.

  • Myth: Net-zero policies are new and exciting.

    Truth: Net-zero policies have caused catastrophic energy shortages even with minuscule implementation. Just by slowing the growth of fossil fuel use, not even reducing it, they have caused global energy shortages advocates didn’t warn us of.

  • Minuscule net-zero policies causing huge problems:
    • US: frequent power shortages (and some disastrous blackouts) after shutting down fossil fuel power plants. E.g., CA
    • EU: deadly fossil fuel dependence after restricting domestic fossil fuel industry
    • Poor nations: can’t afford fuel due to global restrictions14 Bangladesh blackout
  • The “net-zero” movement, led by UN COPs, is the root cause of today’s energy crisis because it has restricted
    1. fossil fuel investment
    2. fossil fuel production
    3. fossil fuel transport

    This has artificially suppressed fossil fuel supply, leading to high prices and shortages.

  • Suppressing fossil fuel investment

    For fossil fuel energy to remain low-cost requires sufficient investment. But the COP-led net-zero movement has used government and private entities, often under the banner of “ESG,” to punish and suppress it—meaning less fossil fuel supply.15

  • Suppressing fossil fuel production

    For fossil fuel energy to remain low-cost for billions of people requires that producers be free to produce it all around the world.

    The COP-led net-zero movement has opposed it throughout the world, often successfully, increasing prices.16

  • Suppressing fossil fuel transport

    For fossil fuels to remain low-cost for billions of people we need to be able to easily transport them from where they are produced to where they are used. But the COP-led net-zero movement has opposed transportation around the world.17

  • The “net-zero” movement has rationalized its opposition to fossil fuel investment, production, and transport with claims that solar and wind could rapidly replace fossil fuels.

    This has obviously not happened. Despite huge solar and wind subsidies fossil fuel demand has increased.

  • Fossil fuels are a uniquely cost-effective source of energy, providing energy that’s low-cost, reliable, versatile, and scalable to billions of people.

    That’s why overall fossil fuel use is growing. E.g., China, despite its “net-zero” pledges, has 300 new coal plants in the pipeline.18 

  • There was never any reason to expect solar and wind to replace fossil fuels. The world needs far more energy—3 billion people still use less electricity than a US refrigerator—so there’s no reason to expect lower demand for any form of cost-effective energy, let alone ultra-versatile fossil fuels.19
  • Despite claims that solar and wind are rapidly replacing fossil fuels, they provide less than 5% of world energy—only electricity, ⅕ of energy—and, crucially, even that small percentage depends on huge subsidies and reliable (mostly fossil-fueled) power plants.20
  • Solar and wind’s basic problem is unreliability, to the point they can go near zero at any time. Thus they don’t replace reliable power, they parasitize it. This is why they need huge subsidies and why no grid is near 50% solar and wind without parasitism on reliable neighbors.21
  • The popular idea that we can use mostly or only solar and wind with sufficient battery backup is not being tried anywhere because it’s absurd. Batteries are so expensive that just 3 days of global backup using Elon Musk’s Megapacks would cost $570 trillion, about 6X global GDP!22 Tesla megapack costs
  • Scary fact: the “net-zero” movement has caused an energy crisis just by achieving a tiny fraction of its goals. While it has advocated rapidly reducing fossil fuel use, it has only succeeded globally at slowing the growth of fossil fuel use. And even that is catastrophic.
  • If just restricting the growth of fossil fuels in a world that needs far more energy is catastrophic, what would it mean to reduce CO2 emissions by the 50% many “climate emergency” advocates want by 2030 and the 100% they want by 2050?

    Global misery and premature death.

  • The net-zero movement led by COP is particularly dangerous to Africa and other poor regions.

    Consider: ⅓ of the world uses wood and animal dung for heating and cooking. 3 billion use less electricity than a typical American refrigerator.

    Only fossil fuels can provide the energy they need to develop.23 Use of primitive biomass

  • Every prosperous country has developed using fossil fuels.

    No poor country has been able to develop to the point of prosperity without massive fossil fuel use.

    The reason is that development requires energy, and fossil fuels are a uniquely cost-effective, including scalable, source of energy.

  • Africa is the world’s poorest region. Most Africans want rapid development and with it, prosperity.

    This is absolutely achievable. But only by using the proven practices every once-poor place has used to develop and prosper.

    One such practice is large-scale fossil fuel use.

  • In recent decades China and India have used large amounts of low-cost, reliable energy from fossil fuels to rapidly develop.

    Since 1980, India’s fossil fuel use has increased by >700% and China’s by >600%.

    India’s life expectancy increased by 17 years and China’s by 14!24 Development China & India

  • Fossil fuels are so uniquely good at providing low-cost, reliable energy for developing nations that even nations with little or no fossil fuel resources have used fossil fuels to develop and prosper. E.g. South Korea (83% fossil fuels), Japan (85% fossil fuels), Singapore (99% fossil fuels).25 Global FF use
  • The obvious path for African development and prosperity is to use fossil fuel whenever it’s the most cost-effective option, which is most of the time, and certainly to responsibly produce the significant fossil fuel resources that exist in Africa.

    Yet COP tells Africa to forego fossil fuels.

  • Given that every prosperous place on Earth has depended on and continues to depend on massive fossil fuel use, and that attempts to replace fossil fuels with solar and wind are failing, the push for Africa to adopt net-zero—aka fossil fuel elimination—is a death sentence for African development.

The alternative to the unnecessary and destructive COPs: energy freedom conferences

Instead of focusing on rapidly eliminating fossil fuel use, we should focus on rapidly liberating energy production and use of all kinds of energy via energy freedom policies.

  • What are “energy freedom policies”?

    Government actions to protect the ability of producers to produce all forms of energy and consumers to use all forms of energy, so long as they don’t engage in reasonably preventable pollution or endangerment of others.

  • Energy freedom policies include:
    • Protecting the freedom to develop fossil fuels and other forms of energy. E.g., deep geothermal development.
    • Protecting the freedom to use fossil fuels and all other forms of energy. E.g., decriminalizing nuclear.
  • Energy freedom policies are more likely to lead to long-term emissions reductions, because they accelerate the rate at which nuclear and other alternatives become globally cost-competitive. (The only moral and practical way to reduce global emissions.)26 China & India using coal
  • Fact: the 2 biggest instances of CO2 reduction have come from energy freedom policies:
    • Nuclear: Freedom led to cost-effective and scalable nuclear power until the “green” movement virtually criminalized it.
    • Gas: Freedom led to significant substitution of gas vs. coal.
  • Alternative energy policy has been dominated by the “green energy” movement, which is an outgrowth of the anti-development green movement. This movement is hostile to all development because of development’s impact on nature, and therefore is hostile to every form of cost-effective energy.
  • COP’ leaders’ enthusiastic support for solar and wind is phony. Just as they oppose fossil fuels, nuclear, and hydro for their impact, in practice they oppose the massive mining, construction, and transmission-line-building “green energy” requires.27
  • The obvious path forward for the world is energy freedom: the freedom to produce and use all cost-effective sources of energy—including, essentially, fossil fuels—which means rejecting all net-zero targets.

    We need courageous leaders who will withdraw from the Paris Agreement.

PS Here’s my friend Jusper Machogu’s message to COP.

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Alberta

Canada’s advantage as the world’s demand for plastic continues to grow

Published on

From the Canadian Energy Centre

By Will Gibson

‘The demand for plastics reflects how essential they are in our lives’

From the clothes on your back to the containers for household products to the pipes and insulation in your home, plastics are interwoven into the fabric of day-to-day life for most Canadians.

And that reliance is projected to grow both in Canada and around the world in the next three decades

The Global Plastics Outlook, published by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), forecasts the use of plastics globally will nearly triple by 2060, driven by economic and population growth.  

The use of plastics is projected to double in OECD countries like Canada, the United States and European nations, but the largest increases will take place in Asia and Africa. 

“The demand for plastics reflects how essential they are in our lives, whether it is packaging, textiles, building materials or medical equipment,” says Christa Seaman, vice-president, plastics with the Chemical Industry Association of Canada (CIAC), which represents Canada’s plastics producers.  

She says as countries look to meet climate and sustainability goals, demand for plastic will grow. 

“Plastics in the market today demonstrate their value to our society. Plastics are used to make critical components for solar panels and wind turbines. But they also can play a role in reducing weight in transportation or in ensuring goods that are transported have less weight in their packaging or in their products.” 

Canada produces about $35 billion worth of plastic resin and plastic products per year, or over five per cent of Canadian manufacturing sales, according to a 2019 report published by the federal government.  

Seaman says Canadian plastic producers have competitive advantages that position them to grow as demand rises at home and abroad. In Alberta, a key opportunity is the abundant supply of natural gas used to make plastic resin.  

“As industry and consumer expectations shift for production to reduce emissions, Canada, and particularly Alberta, are extremely well placed to meet increased demand thanks to its supply of low-carbon feedstock. Going forward, production with less emissions is going to be important for companies,” Seaman says.  

“You can see that with Dow Chemical’s decision to spend $8.8 billion on a net zero facility in Alberta.” 

While modern life would not be possible without plastics, the CIAC says there needs to be better post-use management of plastic products including advanced recycling, or a so-called “circular economy” where plastics are seen as a resource or feedstock for new products, not a waste. 

Some companies have already started making significant investments to generate recyclable plastics.  

For example, Inter Pipeline Ltd.’s $4.3 billion Heartland Petrochemical Complex near Edmonton started operating in 2023. It produces a recyclable plastic called polypropylene from propane, with 65 per cent lower emissions than the global average thanks to the facility’s integrated design. 

Achieving a circular economy – where 90 per cent of post-consumer plastic waste is diverted or recycled – would benefit Canada’s economy, according to the CIAC.  

Deloitte study, commissioned by Environment & Climate Change Canada, estimated diverting or reusing 90 per cent of post-consumer plastic waste by 2030 will save $500 million annually while creating 42,000 direct and indirect jobs. It would also cut Canada’s annual CO2 emissions by 1.8 megatonnes.  

Right now, about 85 per cent of plastics end up in Canada’s landfills. To reach the 90 per cent diversion rate, Seaman says Canada must improve its infrastructure to collect and process the plastic waste currently being landfilled. 

But she also says the industry rather than municipalities need to take responsibility for recycling plastic waste.  

“This concept is referred to as extended producer responsibility. Municipalities have the responsibility for managing recycling within a waste management system. Given the competing costs and priorities, they don’t have the incentive to invest into recycling infrastructure when landfill space was the most cost-effective solution for them,” she says.  

“Putting that responsibility on the producers who put the products on the market makes the most sense…The industry is adapting, and we hope government policy will recognize this opportunity for Canada to meet our climate goals while growing our economy.” 

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Business

Decarbonization deal opens new chapter in Alberta-Japan relationship

Published on

From the Canadian Energy Centre

By Will Gibson

Agreement represents a homecoming for JAPEX, which first started work in the Alberta oil sands in 1978

new agreement that will see Japan Petroleum Exploration Company (JAPEX) invest in decarbonization opportunities in Alberta made history while also being rooted in the past, in the eyes of Gary Mar. 

JAPEX is seeking to develop projects in carbon capture and storage (CCS), hydrogen and bioenergy. It’s part of the company’s JAPEX2050 strategy toward carbon neutrality. 

“This new endeavour is a great opportunity that demonstrates the world is changing but the relationships endure,” says Mar, the province’s former trade envoy to Asia and the current CEO of the Canada West Foundation 

“Alberta’s very first international office was opened in Tokyo in 1981. And we have built a tremendous soft infrastructure that includes partnerships between a dozen Alberta and Japanese universities.” 

For JAPEX, the agreement represents something of a homecoming for the company that first started work in the Alberta oil sands in 1978 and operated one of the first in situ (or drilled) oil projects for nearly two decades before selling its stake in 2018. 

We are now aiming to come back to Alberta and contribute to its decarbonization,” JAPEX president of overseas business Tomomi Yamada said in a statement.  

Mar says the memorandum of understanding signed this March between JAPEX and the crown corporation Invest Alberta stems from a strong relationship built over decades.  

“You cant be considered a reliable partner for a new venture if you havent been a reliable partner for decades in the past,” says Mar.  

Economies change and worlds needs change but strong relationships are important factor in whom you do business with.” 

Alberta’s established CCS infrastructure has already attracted new investment, including Air Products’ $1.6-billion net zero hydrogen complex and Dow Chemicals’ $8.8-billion net zero petrochemical complex 

Mar sees JAPEX’s deal with Invest Alberta opening a whole new market of potential carbon neutral investors in the Pacific Rim. 

“When other countries who are partners in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) see JAPEX invest in this decarbonization opportunities and net zero projects in Alberta, it will send a very clear signal to others in the TPP about the potential,” Mar says.  

“This deal may come from the decades-long relationship between Alberta and Japan but can also serve as a signpost for decades to come.” 

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