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Saturday, June 15, 2024
Opinion: Let’s stop arguing about climate change
Don Mustill is a retired banking and technology executive. He lives in Niagara-on-the-Lake. SUPPLIED

Don Mustill
Special to The Lake Report

Whether you believe in human-caused climate change or not.

Whether you believe humans contribute a little to the problem — or a lot.

Whether you believe excessive CO2 from burning fossil fuels is the culprit — or not.

Let’s stop fighting and stop trying to “win” the argument. It doesn’t matter. We can all be “winners.”

So, how green is Canada?

Ours is already one of the cleanest, greenest countries in the world. More than 80 per cent of our electricity comes from near-zero emission sources. And Canada produces only 1.5 per cent of the world’s CO2 emissions.

Our electricity sources are hydro (60 per cent), nuclear (15 per cent), natural gas (11 per cent), coal (7 per cent), wind (5 per cent) and solar, geothermal, biomass (2 per cent).

Climate change is a global issue.

Whether you are a believer or not, Canada can help the rest of the world reduce its emissions.

Our abundant supply of natural gas can help eliminate or forgo hundreds of coal-fired generating plants throughout Europe, Asia, India and Africa.

In doing so, we can reduce global emissions on a scale that would be equal to a significant portion of Canada’s total emissions.

Japan, Germany and Greece have already approached Canada, begging us to be a provider of oil and gas — and they’ve been turned away by the ideology of our current federal government.

Think about this: if one truly believes climate change is an existential threat, how can we not do everything in our power to help other countries reduce their emissions?

And if you don’t believe it, how can you not want to boost our economy with energy exports?

The debate should be about results, not ideology. Let’s stop fighting and think outside the Canadian bubble.

How do we “fuel” Canada’s population growth?

Our population is growing and we will need more electricity, especially if Canadians choose to buy millions of electric vehicles.

Flying under the radar has been Canada’s investment in small modular reactors (SMRs) — an incredible smaller-scale technology that can power tens of thousands of homes.

SMRs range in size from 10 megawatts to 300 megawatts. The smallest SMR is the size of a truck, can power 8,000 homes and is assembled in a factory and delivered to the site for installation.

Provinces and nuclear partners have plans to be industry leaders and Canada already has a number of SMR projects in the pipeline, with some to be operational prior to 2030.

In fact, Ontario Power Generation’s  Darlington New Nuclear project is installing a 300 megawatt SMR and beginning the planning and licensing for three additional units. When complete, the project will safely and reliably power 1.2 million homes.

We can also unleash more hydro power. We have an abundance of hydro power with tens of thousands of megawatts untapped.

Accessing just 10,000 megawatts would power millions of homes.

Whether through enhancing existing projects or developing new ones, Canada could add 15,000 megawatts of capacity by 2035 — but only if government and industry work together with the urgency that’s required.

Remember: it’s the economy, stupid.

All we have to do is get out of our own way. We need to start thinking about how we can do projects, not trying to find reasons why we can’t.

Canada needs to send a message that we are once again open for business.

Partnering with Indigenous communities for oil, gas, minerals and pipelines can re-energize our stagnant economy. Canada is one of the cleanest jurisdictions in the world to extract natural resources.

The demand is over there but the supply is right here. All we need is the aspiration and will to act.

Revenues would not only enrich Indigenous communities and strengthen our social programs, they can be used as incentives to continue the greening of our industries.

If we stop fighting, we can all win.

It all makes a carbon tax seem silly, right?

When you put it all together, the carbon tax is a product of small thinking. Ask yourself why?

Why do Canadians have to suffer with taxes and stifling regulations when instead, we can offer the world so much?

And what have we really accomplished? Until Canada hit the economic brakes with COVID, our annual emissions from 2005 through 2019 were virtually unchanged.

We’ve wasted almost a decade chasing energy and mining investment away — and limited our thinking entirely to a Canadian bubble.

Some like to brag that Canada used to “punch above its weight.” Well, here’s our chance to do just that. Let’s not waste another decade.

Stop the fighting. Stop the politics. 

Niagara-on-the-Lake resident Don Mustill is a retired banking and technology executive.

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