Letter: Some facts regarding the transition away from bitumen

Clarifying the waters muddied by fossil fuel financed think tanks

To the Expositor:

Mr. Desjardins (‘Writer shares some realities with a low carbon economy,’ page 5, May 22), continues to grasp at straws to deny that a near term transition away from the use of fossil fuels is not only necessary, but inevitable. “Transporting bitumen through pipelines is expensive, as every 10 barrels of bitumen must be diluted with three barrels of condensate, which costs more than light crude. Costs and inefficiency make oil sands products less desirable on world markets. Climate change poses the biggest threat to the future of energy sources like bitumen and coal. (Under the Paris Agreement, all countries committed to reduce emissions to try to keep the global average temperature from rising more than 2°C over pre-industrial levels, with an aspirational goal of 1.5°C. We’re already near 1°C! That means we can’t burn much of the oil, coal and gas still in the ground.) Clean energy technologies are advancing rapidly, fossil fuel divestment is increasing and people are finding ways to reduce use of these polluting energy sources. In Canada, pipeline opponents, Indigenous communities and environmental groups aren’t putting bitumen jobs at risk: automation, market forces and change in the face of the climate crisis are behind the declines.” (“True leaders work for us, not the fossil fuel industry” – David Suzuki)

There are many think tanks supported by the fossil fuel industry, like The Copenhagen Consensus Centre, who continue to muddy the water. According to Wikipedia, “Although the Center does not challenge the scientific consensus that human emissions of greenhouse gasses cause climate change, reports from the Center do not promote taking action to strongly reduce emissions. A 2014 paper assessing climate change was criticized by several experts in the field claiming, that it underestimates the harm and misrepresents the papers cited.” 

“Linda McQuaig is right: leave the oil in the soil! A lot of people recognize that a lot of the oil sands oil may have to stay in the ground, if we’re going to meet our climate change targets.” Mr. Desjardins is not only misguided in his choice of reactionary pro-fossil fuel opinion, but deluded in his determination to misrepresent the facts, as well as, avoid reading the writing on the wall. Conflating energy with power does not properly compare the equivalency of oil with solar and wind power. His criticism of Tesla’s remarkable and innovative Gigafactory, which manufactures automotive batteries, and denial that radical improvements in battery and wind/solar technology has been ongoing, is laughable… Your understanding of the “laws of physics” should be expanded to include the consequences of the “magical thinking” of corporate greed. For the record, Google has not given up on their project to develop renewable energy, as they have been proud to advertise they’ve been producing 100 percent of their energy requirements, since 2017. Google now uses more than 2.6 billion watts of wind and solar energy. (computerworld.com)

The fossil fuel industry apologist, Mark P. Mills may appeal to climate change deniers like Mr. Desjardins with his article, ‘The New Energy Economy: An Exercise in Magical Thinking.’ However, “Decision-makers who care about the people they represent and understand science, social trends and technological potential know that a low-carbon future offers better health, livability and economic resilience. Yes, the fossil fuel industry is still the most profitable and among the most destructive in human history, but those days are coming to an end. True leaders understand this.” (“True leaders work for us, not the fossil fuel industry.” – David Suzuki.)

Yours truly,

Derek Stephen McPhail

Providence Bay