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SUN COLUMN: Do The Opposite of What David Suzuki Says, Save The Environment

Canada natural gas David Suzuki


Famed Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki made headlines recently for musing that protestors might resort to “blowing up” pipelines as part of their fight against climate change.

It was just the latest controversial remark from a man who has grown more and more extreme over time.

Here’s an idea, instead of promoting violence how about promoting solutions?

One of these solutions might involve doing the opposition of what Suzuki suggests. Imagine if government bodies in Canada approved more pipelines and major oil and gas mega projects, but – and this is a big “but” – dedicated all the corporate income tax revenues and royalties from those new projects to reduce emissions?

This would unleash an absolutely astounding amount of resources towards reducing emissions in Canada and around the world.

SecondStreet.org has tabulated nearly $200 billion in oil and gas projects since 2014 that have been halted at least in part due to government policies. From pipelines and oil sands projects to liquefied natural gas projects in B.C., Quebec and Atlantic Canada, our nation has missed out on a staggering economic opportunity.  

The tax revenues that would have come from the projects in question is unimaginable.

Consider that the canceled Teck oil sands mine in Alberta alone would have paid $55 billion in taxes and royalties to the Alberta government and $12 billion in taxes to Ottawa. For perspective, that total is roughly the equivalent of what the Alberta government spends annually on health care, education and all other government services combined.

Approve a few more major oil and gas projects and it’s easy to see how governments would be swimming in funds to put towards reducing emissions.

Here are a couple points readers may wish to keep in mind with this concept:

First, this approach would arguably have a positive impact for the environment right from the start. If Canada developed and exported more natural gas, it could be used by countries such as Japan to switch from generating electricity with coal to natural gas; don’t forget, natural gas has 50 per cent lower emissions than coal. Making the switch to natural gas is one way the United States reduced its emissions.

Under this proposal, government revenues from each incremental barrel of oil would be put toward reducing emissions.

Second, Canada could use at least some of the funds from this proposal to help develop our nation’s emerging carbon tech sector – not through subsidies, but as payment for providing a service.

As entrepreneurs use CO2 to create products such as vodka, soap and cement (yes these are real examples), the companies could receive tax credits or payment through competitive tender to remove CO2.

Either way, this model would help carbon tech companies grow and refine their systems in Canada, putting them in a position to export their CO2-reducing technology world-wide.

Make no mistake, this concept is not perfect – no option is. But it’s certainly more constructive and solutions-oriented than David Suzuki musing about blowing up pipelines, forcing Canada and the world to import more oil from the Middle East.

Colin Craig is the President of SecondStreet.org, a Canadian think tank. You can follow him on Twitter (@colincraig1) or email him at colin@secondstreet.org

Article originally published in the Toronto Sun.

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