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Harper Rules out Crackdown on Greenhouse Gas Emissions

‘We’re clearly not going to do it,’ PM tells Commons.

By Jeremy J. Nuttall, 9 Dec 2014, TheTyee.ca

Oilsands development

Oil prices recently incurred a 35 per cent drop. Oilsands image via Shutterstock.

Falling oil prices have made the possibility of placing restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions for the oil and gas sector a “crazy” endeavour according to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Harper said Canada would not unilaterally impose restrictions on the industry.

The prime minister made his assertion during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday (December 9, 2014) when, once again, he was pressed by the New Democrats on when emission limits, promised since 2007, would be introduced.

Usually the Conservatives use that question, which often occurs daily from Opposition members, to attack the Liberal Party on its greenhouse gas emissions record, but on Tuesday Harper had a different answer.

We’re clearly not going to do it,” he said to cheers of approval from his party after saying that initiating controls “under the current circumstances of the oil and gas sector, it would be crazy.”

Harper said Canada is not willing to introduce restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions, especially with oil prices recently incurring a 35 per cent drop.

“Regulating the oil and gas sector is something we would like to do, but we must do it on an integrated basis in a continental economy,” he said, in reference to working together with the U.S. on restrictions.

‘A new excuse’

But Greenpeace researcher Keith Stewart said the U.S. is already working on emission restrictions for the oil and gas sector, so all Canada needs to do is follow along, despite Harper’s insistence it’s not a good time.

“They’ve always had a new excuse as to why they’re not doing it,” Stewart said.

Stewart pointed to an internal memo sent from Environment Canada to the federal minister in 2013. That memo explained that the climate action plan, which the U.S. released in 2013, included emission restrictions for methane gas fracking.

He said the constant claims that restrictions on energy emissions would hurt the industry are blown out of proportion.

Stewart said the restrictions requested by environmentalists and Opposition parties would only result in a cost of 20 to 90 cents per barrel to the oil and gas industry, which he said is nothing compared to the recent price drop leaving oil at about US$65 per barrel.

“You’ve had a lot worse happen and it hasn’t changed things that much,” Stewart said. “What’s the cost of doing nothing?”  [Tyee]

Related

Latest UN Climate Action Plan ‘Very Weak Indeed’

Nick Fillmore, writing in TheTyee reports on the recent international conflab in Lima Peru. Filmore writes that:

The corporate sector was out in full force in Lima. Shell Oil was permitted to speak at the main session about its preferred way of fighting carbon emissions — carbon capture and storage (CCS), a still unproven technology. Another oil giant, Chevron, was permitted to sponsor side events inside the negotiations.

Meanwhile, 82 NGOs and one international NGO were unable to participate in any meaningful way because they had only observer status. The various drafts of the agreement were negotiated in secret, and anyone making a statement was kept to three minutes. No Canadian NGO participated at the conference.

PHOTO2.KerryandGore-600.jpg

Al Gore and John Kerry attended the Lima talks. UNclimatechange Flickr page.

NGOs had so little status in Lima that they needed approval from the UN concerning what slogans could be placed on their protest banners. Neither countries nor corporations were allowed to be named on the banners. A march by 10,000 protesters had no impact on the proceedings.

 All of Fillmore’s report can be found at:http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2014/12/16/UN-Climate-Action-Plan-Very-Weak/?utm_source=daily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=161214