The federal government revealed last Thursday that they will be investing 100 million Canadian dollars to reducing the environmental impact to the oil and gas industry in Canada. The move would save 100 megatons of greenhouse gasses by 2033, which is the equivalent of getting 1.5 million cars off the roads. The money (spent out of the Strategic Innovation Fund) will primarily go towards bolstering the Clean Resources Innovation Network (CRIN).
Created in 2017, CRIN is a consortium of 1700 entities with businesses, NGOs, ministries and researchers at various universities and institutions. Its goal is to support various research projects aiming to reduce the environmental footprint of the fossil fuel industries in Canada.
Government backing the transition to a low carbon economy
Because Canada has the third largest petroleum reserves in the world, the oil and gas industry remains crucial to the economy. The energy sector represents 20% of Canada’s exports alone. Unsurprisingly, Canada also has per capita greenhouse gas emissions up to 3 or 4 times higher than the world average. In fact, between 1990 and 2018, emissions went up overall by 20.9%.
These numbers are a serious challenge for the current government which has committed itself, through the Paris accords, to a significant reduction of its carbon footprint. If the world wants to keep the global temperature increase from exceeding 2° Celsius, Canada will need to invest heavily in the environment and do its part. Moving to a low-carbon economy is thus a significant priority and the government is trying to move in that direction.
Canada’s investments aim to transform the energy industry
Of the 100 million allocated for that purpose, 80 million have already been spread out between three technology development contests. With the aim of producing “cleaner” energies, the investment will help commercialize new products of the Canadian petroleum and natural gas industries.
Broadening the options for the biggest polluters is a key step in reducing their environmental footprint. A key step for which will be growing new digital solutions, and the implementation of in depth evaluation procedures. CRIN is hoping to develop revolutionary clean technologies that also provide strong added value solutions. Small and large companies stand to benefit as half the funding is dedicated to each.
“Canada is leading in groundbreaking clean tech solutions. Investments like this, working with our oil and gas sector, are vitally important to our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. This is how we get to net-zero emissions by 2050.” said Seamus O’Regan, the Minister of Natural Resources, in the government’s press release on the subject.
The government investment will also create high quality jobs
According to CRIN’s website, the remaining 20 million will be dedicated to the construction of a renewable energy ecosystem. With the aim of accelerating research in new fundamental technologies. Among other things, this will entail the training of highly qualified innovators and the workforce to build on their work.
“The Government of Canada is committed to helping bring together Canada’s research expertise and businesses that are seeking to seize growth opportunities and address challenges through the development, demonstration and adoption of innovative technologies and processes,” declared Navdeep Bains, the Minister for Innovation, Science and Industry. He continued, “This investment in the Clean Resource Innovation Network demonstrates how we are collaborating with our energy sector to grow the economy and create jobs, while greatly reducing emissions.”
Greenpeace Canada contests the investment’s environmental motivation
Not everyone, however, is a fan of the government’s choice of investments. The controversial NGO Greenpeace in Canada has condemned the government’s choice of partners on the project. They argue that the investment is merely a subsidy in disguise for an industry hit particularly hard by the global Covid-19 pandemic. Instead, they plead for the adoption of genuine climate solutions and investments in the renewable energy sector directly.
In any case, the struggle against climate change will need wide-spread collaboration across all fields, and a combination of tools and strategies adapted to regional contexts. This may not be enough yet, but it is a step in the right direction.
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