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Canada Needs to ‘Accelerate’ Away from Natural Gas, Oil Because of Russia, Says Trudeau
In case the message was missed in August, when Chancellor Olaf Scholz returned to Germany without the LNG he had sought, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said again that Canada is no fossil fuel warehouse for deliveries on demand.
At the National Arts Centre in Ottawa this week, Trudeau only gave Scholz a promise to work on a hydrogen trade strategy. The Canadian prime minister called the Russian invasion of Ukraine and resulting energy price inflation only more reasons to leave oil and natural gas behind.
“People are realizing okay, getting off Russian oil and gas means getting on to more oil and gas to replace that from elsewhere,” said Trudeau at a conference held by the Canadian Climate Institute and the Net Zero Advisory Body.
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“But it’s also showing that OK, we need to accelerate our moves off of oil and gas or our moves to decarbonize the gas at least, so that we can actually not be reliant on Russia. But more than that, not be reliant as democracies and autocracies.”
The statement highlighted a hardened environmental policy line that has emerged since the 2021 Canadian election, when Trudeau and the Liberal party only won 160 seats to be the largest minority in the 338-seat national Parliament.
To extend his minority government’s lifespan, Trudeau made a support deal with the federal New Democratic Party (NDP), a Canadian counterpart to the Progressives faction of the Democrats in the United States.
In trade for social spending, the NDP agreed to back the Liberals until 2025. While the national NDP fights fossil fuel projects, provincial NDP wings support development in oil- and natural gas-rich Alberta and British Columbia.
“We’re focused on actually reducing our emissions” at the federal level, Trudeau said. He cited policies that include a national carbon tax and tree planting, to electric vehicle subsidies and tax concessions for fossil fuel carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects.
“Yes, right now, in the coming couple of years, we’re going to need to continue with the mechanisms we have, but the move off of fossil fuels, and decarbonizing what we do have, is going to happen much faster because of Russia.”
Trudeau acknowledged that the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) has more generous aid for CCS than the Canadian concessions announced to date.
“We’re absolutely going to stay competitive,” he said.
Still, Canada’s leader said the federal government remains well ahead of its U.S. counterpart in taking action on greenhouse gas reduction.
“One of the reasons the U.S. has to do so much more is they don’t have a price on pollution,” Trudeau said. “They have to do through regulations, incentives and subsidies, what we are already doing a lot of heavy lifting around with a price on pollution,” such as a carbon tax.
“We’re always going to look more on how to be competitive with the IRA,” he said. “It is raising the bar in a great way. They’re starting to catch up to where Canada is, which is a good thing. But we still have advantages… in drawing investments from around the world.”
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