Column: Oil investment not the way to the future

We need to start the hard work now of building the transition to clean energy

The world is undergoing rapid change, but our preparation for the future’s challenges has been seriously lacking. Unfortunately, most of the talk concerning new infrastructure development in Western Canada has been centered on pipelines and the exploitation of petroleum reserves.

We find ourselves facing a debate on whether or not to allow the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline, which would represent a seven-fold increase in increase tanker traffic off our coast. The environmental risks alone should be cause for us to be alarmed by this proposal, but even smart economics might be on the side of stopping this project in its tracks.

Electric vehicles and self driving cars are just on the horizon and will fundamentally disrupt our reliance on oil and gas. This transition to vehicles that cost less to operate, last longer, require far less maintenance, and have no need for a driver will have huge ramifications for oil, transportation, and auto companies and their workforces.

The longevity of these vehicles rests on the fact that a combustion engine drivetrain is composed of more than 2,000 parts while the drivetrain on an electric vehicle boasts just 20. It’s a fact that a system with fewer moving parts will be more reliable than a system with more moving parts.

Big Oil has been living in denial with their heads stuck in the oil sand. It has been living off its profits and looking to massively increase their infrastructure with pipelines that endanger our environment and contribute to climate change.

The coal market has recently suffered from the persistence of rapid technological change.

Cheap natural gas gained the upper hand over coal in the last decade. Coal producers lost massive value and now 50 per cent of coal that is being mined is by companies that are in some state of bankruptcy.

As electric, self-driving cars are released en masse to the public over the next decade, the need for oil will significantly drop, causing a corresponding loss in the price of oil.

We need to start the hard work now of building the transition to clean energy and the creation of electric automobiles. The alternative is to cope with economic ramifications of thousands of working Canadians from the oil patch who have lost their jobs.

We need policies that encourage investment in the creation of electric vehicles, clean energy and infrastructure that mitigates climate change.

There is an opportunity for our country to be at the forefront of this revolution, and we should start taking advantage before it is too late.

Good jobs need to be protected and created if we are going to tackle this challenge head-on and build a society where no one is left behind.

I have heard the debate over Kinder Morgan framed in an economy vs the environment argument.

I would disagree with that dichotomy; I think that the economic, social, and environmental considerations all lean towards saying no to the Kinder Morgan expansion and yes to a greener, richer future.

By Alistair MacGregor - published Aug 18th, 2017 in the Cowichan Valley Citizen

Available here: http://www.cowichanvalleycitizen.com/opinion/column-oil-investment-not-the-way-to-the-future/