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Notes Remarks by
The Honourable Christian Paradis, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Natural Resources
21st World Energy Congress
September 12, 2010
Check against delivery
On behalf of the Government of Canada and our Prime Minister Stephen Harper, it’s my great pleasure to welcome you to Montreal, to Quebec, and to Canada.
As Canada's Minister responsible for energy, I’m honoured to officially open the 21st World Energy Congress.
We’re here to talk about energy. More precisely, we’re here to talk about how we can work together to shape a secure and sustainable global energy future.
As we are all aware, energy is a basic ingredient in economic growth and quality of life for all countries.
This is especially true for Canada. Together with our world-leading financial institutions, our energy resource endowment is the cornerstone of our strategy for economic success.
This energy endowment provides Canada with an unparalleled economic advantage — an advantage we’re determined to leverage to secure our place as a clean energy superpower and a leader in green job creation.
We have much to leverage.
Canada is the world’s seventh-largest producer of crude oil, and proven reserves are the second largest in the world. We are the third-largest producer of both natural gas and hydroelectric power; the second-largest producer of uranium; and by far the largest supplier of energy resources to the world’s largest marketplace, the United States.
We produce significant amounts of clean energy. Fully 75 percent of our electricity demand is met by hydro and nuclear, and we’re aggressive in our development of new sources of clean energy. We have launched major initiatives that have set the foundation for new, clean-energy industries, from wind and solar power to tidal energy and biofuels, leading to a more diversified energy mix.
Canadian resources such as the oil sands will play a crucial role in maintaining North American and global energy security for some time. Our government continues to collaborate with our partners to minimize the environmental impacts associated with this resource and with fossil fuels in general.
Oil sands development proposals are already subject to extensive environmental and regulatory review. The industry is also increasingly employing drilled, or in situ, oil sands production where there is no creation of tailings ponds, and where, on average, one barrel of water is needed to produce one barrel of oil.
Already, 90 percent of water used in oil sands drilling is being recycled. Since 1990, GHG emissions per barrel of oil production have been cut by one-third. The bottom line is, governments in Canada, as well as industry, are constantly looking for, and implementing, ways to develop the oil sands in a manner that is respectful of the environment.
We are also examining the potential for the development of other, less-conventional sources of energy, such as shale gas, coal bed methane and gas hydrates. These resources can be important economic drivers, and cleaner-burning natural gas can play an important role as we transition away from fossil fuels.
Our emphasis on energy innovation, and on clean energy research and development, is an environmental imperative. It’s also an economic imperative.
These new, cleaner sources of energy are desirable not only because we must reduce emissions, but also because we will need this energy in the future.
As our Prime Minister said just a few weeks ago: "Ultimately, a transition to alternative fuels is inevitable, and the way to handle it is to develop new technologies in an orderly way."
This is what we are doing in Canada — pursuing an orderly, balanced approach. We are developing new sources of energy, and we’re investing in the technologies needed to increase the sustainability of our fossil fuel production and use.
This is essential. Our dependence on fossil fuels cannot be denied.
Even under the most optimistic scenario, the International Energy Agency says that 20 years from now, the world will still be getting almost 70 percent of its energy from fossil fuels.1
The world cannot simply walk away from fossil fuels at this juncture, effectively stagnating the fragile global economy at the worst possible time and potentially sentencing more than a billion people to more years of energy poverty.
However – and this is a key point – just because we must accept the reality of fossil fuels, doesn’t mean we must accept their impact on our environment.
Canada has already committed to a greenhouse gas reduction target of 17 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020. This target is aligned with that of the Obama administration and our two governments are continuing to work together on numerous continent-wide approaches to GHGs.
Individual Canadian citizens are playing their part. Canada has invested more than $4 billion to help Canadians use energy more efficiently. Incentives to encourage homeowners to retrofit their dwellings are paying off in green dividends. The average homeowner taking advantage of these incentives is seeing annual energy savings of 22 percent and a reduction of three tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.
In Canada, we’re also working with our partners in government, industry, and the research community to develop a number of large-scale carbon capture and storage projects.
Canada is also an active contributor to multilateral efforts to develop and expand this technology.
It’s recognized that carbon capture and storage can play an important role in transitioning to a low-carbon emitting economy. We’ve launched seven large-scale carbon capture and storage demonstration projects with the potential to reduce Canada's GHG emissions by millions of tonnes a year. These seven projects represent a significant contribution to the G-8 commitment to launch a total of 20 of these projects by 2010.
Our Investments in Forest Industry Transformation program is a $100 million investment in the development, commercialization and implementation of advanced clean energy technologies in the forestry sector.
Further to what I mentioned earlier Canada and the United States are building on our successful collaboration in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from new passenger automobiles and light trucks, we will continue to work together to do the same for heavy-duty vehicles.
Canada is also moving ahead with regulations to gradually phase out old and dirty coal-units – action that will have a significant impact on reducing emissions from the electricity generation sector.
All these efforts to minimize the environmental impact of fossil fuels will become more and more important as the world’s appetite for energy continues to grow. The International Energy Agency predicts that global energy demand in 2030 will be 40 percent higher than it was in 2007 2 — with the vast majority of that growth in demand being met by fossil fuels.
The challenge is thus very clear — to reduce the impact of fossil fuels while accelerating the development of the alternative sources we will need for the longer term.
Our resource endowment and advanced technologies allow Canada to occupy a position of leadership. We’re committed to using our position to work with the international community to address global energy challenges and seize the opportunities within them.
The themes for this Congress describe the opportunities for collaboration — accessibility, availability, acceptability, and accountability.
We cannot escape that these are linked together. We cannot achieve long-term results in one without also addressing the others.
It’s difficult to say one challenge is greater than another. But the current standard of accessibility is unacceptable.
This is the 21st century, and yet, according to the IEA, 1.5 billion people don’t have access to electricity. 3 Even 20 years from now, the IEA projects that 1.3 billion people will still not have access to this basic commodity.
That’s why Canada continues to invest in electricity projects in countries such as Haiti. It’s why Canada continues to be an active supporter of multilateral efforts such as those led by the World Bank.
Still, there is much more to do, and I look forward to our discussions on how we can better address energy poverty. Now is the time and the opportunity to develop models of cooperation and collaboration that will help to ensure that no country and no people are left behind.
This is also an opportunity to discuss greater collaboration with emerging economies where there is the opportunity to move directly to the next generation of cleaner and greener energy technologies.
We must deal with accessibility, but it must be done in the context of availability and acceptability — the right mix of energy that will assure stability, security, reliability and sustainability.
The final connection is energy accountability. Our success in addressing energy accessibility, availability and acceptability will depend to a large extent on our capacity to ensure accountability.
Canada believes a market-oriented policy is the best way to balance supply and demand, and provide stable pricing. A supportive investment climate is essential. We also believe that transparency of commodity markets and regulations that promote proper functioning of global energy markets are fundamental to success.
These are the energy challenges and opportunities we face as a world. We all have achieved varying degrees of success in addressing these challenges.
I can assure you that Canada will continue to work constructively to implement the Copenhagen Accord. Through fast-track financing, we are providing $400 million to support developing countries through technology transfer, capacity building and efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation.
I will not pretend that Canada has all the answers. There is more work to be done but I assure you that Canada has both the energy and the determination to do it.
To the international delegates, I urge you to consider Canada as a destination of choice for investment and research opportunities.
We’re home to many leading researchers and technologies. For example, my department, Natural Resources Canada, has been very successful in developing energy-saving software.
Our RETScreen series is being used by thousands of companies and institutions worldwide in more than 220 countries, with energy savings estimated in the billions of dollars.
Canadian researchers and technology are leading the way — thanks to our determination to make better use of our energy resources.
We all know that smart energy choices are good for our economy, for our environment, and for our ability to compete as a nation.
We have much to offer and would also welcome the opportunity to reciprocate in your countries.
Here in Montreal, Quebec, we have an opportunity to learn from one another, to increase our collaboration in building the knowledge and the technologies that can benefit all of us.
To achieve this, we need to commit ourselves to a meaningful dialogue on these issues — to move beyond finger pointing, unrealistic ideas, and excuses.
In short, it means responsibly and realistically looking at the right options that will balance environmental considerations with economic necessities.
Here at this World Energy Congress, we have the opportunity to begin that dialogue — to identify the real problems, and to seek out real solutions.
Let’s make the most of this opportunity.
1 IEA, news release, 12 April 2010, accessed at: http://www.iea.org/pressdetail.asp?PRESS_REL_ID=300
2 IEA, World Energy Outlook 2009, "Fact Sheet" accessed at http://www.iea.org/weo/docs/weo2009/fact_sheets_WEO_2009.pdf
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