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Energy

U.S. halt on LNG exports presents new opportunity for Canada

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From the Fraser Institute

By Julio Mejía and Elmira Aliakbari

The Biden administration recently paused the approval of permits for liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports, which will force U.S. allies to explore alternative sources of LNG, opening the door for Canada. In fact, if Canadian policymakers remove certain regulatory hurdles, they can help position Canada as a leading global provider of clean and reliable natural gas while also helping create jobs and prosperity in British Columbia, Alberta and beyond.

Following Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, President Biden committed to supplying steady LNG to the European Union, aiming to reduce reliance on Russian gas. By 2023, the United States had become the world’s top LNG exporter, with several European countries importing more than half of America’s LNG exports. However, President Biden also pledged to transition the U.S. away from fossil fuels so he’s paused LNG exports to appease his environmentalist constituency ahead of the upcoming U.S. presidential election.

But this pause comes at a crucial time for European countries grappling with energy shortages and rising prices. Last year, energy-intensive industries in Europe scaled back or halted production amid soaring energy prices, and Germany, Europe’s largest economy, narrowly avoided a recession caused by energy supply shortages. To keep the lights on, European countries have been forced to revert to coal-fired power plants, an energy source that contributes more CO2 emissions than natural gas.

Following the U.S. decision, European and Asian countries (including China) are exploring alternative LNG suppliers, again creating a potential void that Canada could fill. Japan and Germany have already turned to Canada.

Canada’s vast natural resources hold the potential to make a significant positive impact on global energy security, reliability, and emissions reduction by reducing reliance on coal. Despite possessing “the most prolific and lower-cost North American gas resources,” as emphasized by McKinsey’s recent report, development in Canada has encountered challenges largely due to government regulatory barriers. Presently, Canada lacks any operational LNG export terminals, unlike the U.S., which has 27 such facilities. The LNG Canada development in B.C. is slated to become Canada’s first operational facility, expected to begin exporting by 2025.

The absence of LNG export infrastructure in Canada has led domestic natural gas producers to depend on U.S. LNG facilities for exporting. However, with the recent halt on approving new LNG projects south of the border, there’s an urgent need for Canada to establish its own infrastructure if we’re going to seize this opportunity to be a global LNG supplier.

Forecasts indicate steady and growing global demand for LNG. McKinsey’s recent report anticipates an annual increase in global LNG demand of 1.5 per cent to 3 per cent to 2035. And according to the latest report by the International Energy Agency (IEA), limited new LNG production means supply will remain tight.

Despite promising opportunities, various government initiatives including CleanBC (the B.C. government’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,) the Trudeau government’s emissions caps on the oil and gas sector, and federal Bill C-69 (which added more red tape and complexity to the assessment process for major energy projects) have created uncertainty and deterred, if not outright prohibited, investment in the sector.

Canada has an opportunity to provide clean and reliable natural gas to our allies, help improve the world’s energy security and reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. The federal and provincial governments must remove regulatory barriers to allow for the needed infrastructure and investment in the LNG sector, which will also provide jobs and prosperity here at home.

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Alberta

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

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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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Economy

Extreme Weather and Climate Change

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From the Fraser Insitute

By Kenneth P. Green

Contrary to claims by many climate activists and politicians, extreme weather events—including forest fires, droughts, floods and hurricanes—are not increasing in frequency or intensity, finds a new study published today by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank.

“Earth Day has become a time when extraordinary claims are made about extreme weather events, but before policymakers act on those extreme claims—often with harmful regulations—it’s important to study the actual evidence,” said Kenneth Green, a senior fellow with the Fraser Institute and author of Extreme Weather and Climate Change.

The study finds that global temperatures have increased moderately since 1950 but there is no evidence that extreme weather events are on the rise, including:

• Drought: Data from the World Meteorological Organization Standardized Precipitation Index showed no statistically significant trends in drought duration or magnitude—with the exception of some small regions in Africa and South America—from 1900 to 2020.

• Flooding: Research in the Journal of Hydrology in 2017, analyzing 9,213 recording stations around the world, found there were more stations exhibiting significant decreasing trends (in flood risk) than increasing trends.

• Hurricanes: Research conducted for the World Meteorological Organization in 2019 (updated in 2023) found no long-term trends in hurricanes or major hurricanes recorded globally going back to 1980.

• Forest Fires: The Royal Society in London, in 2020, found that when considering the total area burned at the global level, there is no overall increase, but rather a decline over the last decades. In Canada, data from Canada’s Wildland Fire Information System show that the number of fires and the area burned in Canada have both been declining over the past 30 years.

“The evidence is clear—many of the claims that extreme weather events are increasing are simply not empirically true,” Green said.

“Before governments impose new regulations or enact new programs, they need to study the actual data and base their actions on facts, not unsubstantiated claims.”

  • Assertions are made claiming that weather extremes are increasing in frequency and severity, spurred on by humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Based on such assertions, governments are enacting ever more restrictive regulations on Canadian consumers of energy products, and especially Canada’s energy sector. These regulations impose significant costs on the Canadian economy, and can exert downward pressure on Canadian’s standard of living.
  • According to the UN IPCC, evidence does suggest that some types of extreme weather have become more extreme, particularly those relating to temperature trends.
  • However, many types of extreme weather show no signs of increasing and in some cases are decreasing. Drought has shown no clear increasing trend, nor has flooding. Hurricane intensity and number show no increasing trend. Globally, wildfires have shown no clear trend in increasing number or intensity, while in Canada, wildfires have actually been decreasing in number and areas consumed from the 1950s to the present.
  • While media and political activists assert that the evidence for increasing harms from increasing extreme weather is iron-clad, it is anything but. In fact, it is quite limited, and of low reliability. Claims about extreme weather should not be used as the basis for committing to long-term regulatory regimes that will hurt current Canadian standards of living, and leave future generations worse off.

The Fraser Institute is an independent Canadian public policy research and educational
organization with offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal and ties to a global
network of think-tanks in 87 countries. Its mission is to improve the quality of life for Canadians,
their families and future generations by studying, measuring and broadly communicating the
effects of government policies, entrepreneurship and choice on their well-being. To protect the
Institute’s independence, it does not accept grants from governments or contracts for research.
Visit www.fraserinstitute.org

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