Next week, government representatives, Aboriginal leaders, environmental groups, and industry will meet in Ontario for the 2015 Climate Summit of the Americas. They will come together in the hopes of finding real solutions to reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) and of identifying opportunities for progress in the transition to a less carbon-intensive economy. They will question our society’s reliance on oil for energy and for the products we need to sustain the quality of life we enjoy in Canada and around the world.
At TransCanada we recognize that climate change is an important issue and we know that as a key player in the energy sector we have a role to play in the global effort to reduce GHGs. That’s why we’ve invested over $5 billion in emission-less energy sources, including eight solar projects in Ontario and one of Canada’s largest wind farm developments in the Gaspe Peninsula region of Quebec, as well as the largest wind farm in New England, and 13 hydro power facilities in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Vermont.
More than half of the power we generate today comes from low- and non-emitting sources such as natural gas, nuclear, wind, hydro and solar. Last year alone we invested over $38 million across North America in research and development projects, and part of this spending was dedicated to reducing emissions.
But while renewable energy sources and investments in reducing GHGs continue to advance, so too does the need for oil. Consider this, the computer or the smart phone you are reading this blog on requires energy to produce, operate and maintain. And the roads you took to get to work today, the clothes you are wearing, and the stores we shop in, all these things also need petroleum components.
Our need for energy will continue to grow around the world. By 2040, fossil fuels, including oil, will continue to represent about three quarters of global energy demand.
So where will that oil come from? Today, despite Canada having the third largest oil reserves in the world, we are importing close to one million barrels of oil per day from other countries, like Venezuela and Algeria, which do not have the strict environmental regulations we have in this country. Why do we import? Because we don’t have the capacity to service our refineries with oil from within Canada. We cannot take the oil we have in the West and take it to where it is needed, in the East.
How can we get Canadian oil safely to refineries in Canada? We expect that the direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions arising from the transport of oil from Alberta to eastern Canada will be less by pipeline than by rail. This is because much of the energy to move the oil by pipeline will come from low- or emissions-less electricity sources, whereas rail transport will be based on diesel. The U.S. State Department concluded that GHG emissions are significantly higher when oil shipped from Hardisty, Alberta to the U.S. Gulf Coast was transported by rail instead of by pipeline. We also know from independent studies, like the one conducted by Navius for the Ontario Energy Board, that the oil that will be shipped via Energy East will be produced, sent to market and consumed regardless of whether the pipeline is approved or not.
Knowing all this, we at TransCanada, want to be part of the solution and we think the Energy East Pipeline is a better and safer option that will help meet our shared goal of managing greenhouse gas emissions and safely delivering the oil that millions of Canadian need in their everyday life.