[Éditorial de Robert Dutrisac] Two-faced face


COP27 concluded with a historic agreement to create a fund financed by rich countries to compensate less wealthy countries for the damage caused by climate change. Canada has actively supported this “climate justice” measure that less developed countries have been calling for for 30 years.

It is only next year that the terms of this fund, whether for its endowment or for its compensation mechanisms, will be discussed. But the fact that rich countries, responsible for the bulk of global warming, recognize their responsibility for the damage they impose on poor countries and undertake to compensate them is a major step forward which shows, in the eyes of many, usefulness of these UN climate conferences.

In contrast, Canada was an absentee when it came to including in the final COP27 resolution that countries commit to phasing out fossil fuels by 2050. This request, made by India, was rejected under the weight of the presidency of Egypt, which has shown itself to be sensitive to the pressure of the oil-producing countries. At COP26, Canada supported a commitment, accepted by participating countries, to phase out the use of coal for electricity generation. At the end of COP27, Canada was still on a list of countries that would have supported the commitment proposed by India.

But at home, his speech is not the same. Last week, in a written reply in the Commons to a Conservative MP, Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson argued that the global transition to a « low carbon future » could be done without phasing out oil production and gas in Canada. Hydrocarbons have a role to play in a “net-zero zero” economy, he argues. And to launch this enormity: “The cause of climate change is not fossil fuels as such, but the carbon emissions associated with their production and combustion. »

At COP27, Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Joubeir made a similar statement, arguing that tackling climate change is not about fossil fuels. As reported by the New York TimesSaudi Energy Minister Abdulaziz bin Salman Al Saud maintains, like Canadian Minister Wilkinson, that “hydrocarbons will continue to be an essential part of the global energy mix for decades to come”.

There are also similarities in industrial strategies. Like Saudi Arabia, Canada is banking on reducing emissions from hydrocarbon production through the capture and storage of greenhouse gases (GHGs). Ottawa grants a tax credit of 50% for the development of these experimental technologies, ie 7 billion this year, out of a total assistance to the industry of 15 billion. Minister Wilkinson also praises the efforts of the New Ways Alliance, a lobby that represents 90% of the oil sands industry.

Similarly, Saudi Arabia massively subsidizes research to reduce GHG emissions attributable to hydrocarbons and pursues a long-term strategy « to keep the world hooked on oil for decades », according to the expression of the New York daily.

However, the commitment of the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5°C implies a drastic reduction in the world’s consumption of hydrocarbons, by three quarters by 2050. Face with two faces, Canada wants to maintain its production, as do other oil-producing countries like Saudi Arabia.

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