Teck’s political bombshell
On Sunday, February 23, Teck Resources Ltd. withdrew its bid for its $20.6 billion development of the oil sands mine in northern Alberta. Teck’s President and CEO Don Lindsay cancelled a few days before Prime Minister Trudeau’s cabinet was to rule on the project’s approval. (Letter: bit.ly/39zNXSs)
In so doing, Lindsay relieved Canada’s Prime Minister of making a challenging decision: approve Teck’s Tar Sands project and alienate his environmental supporters, or approve it and win Alberta’s Conservative Premier Jason Kenney’s delight (for a fleeting instant).
Completely inappropriately, Conservative party leaders such as Kenney and Andrew Scheer blame Prime Minister Trudeau for Teck’s decision.
Plunging price of oil
In the early 2000s, a barrel of oil sold for US$100 (or more). At time of writing on March 4, 2020, Markets Insider watchlist places a barrel at US$47.78. (bit.ly/2wy2krR)
Lindsay recognized this, writing, “global capital markets are changing rapidly and investors and customers are increasingly looking for jurisdictions to have a framework in place that reconciles resource development and climate change, in order to produce the cleanest possible products.”
Lindsay therefore acknowledges it’s not solely the commodity market’s plunge in oil prices that created an impossible ROI (return on investment) scenario for Teck.
Lindsay referenced climate change eight times in his letter.
In so doing, he’s acknowledging climate change is real.
Simultaneously, he states that Canada does not have a process and policy in place which balances resource development with climate change/environmentally sustainable requirements.
Lindsay wrote, “It is our [Teck’s] hope that withdrawing from the process will allow Canadians to shift to a larger and more positive discussion about the path forward.”
Action on climate change
Lindsay encourages Canadian politicians to work with industry to create substantive policy reconciling resource development with climate change. Kenney and Scheer are dinosaurs, seemingly incapable of recognizing it’s possible to reconcile these seemingly opposing issues. Lindsay emphasized, “there is an urgent need to reduce global carbon emissions and support action on climate change.”
Lindsay does not completely close the door on the development of the tar sands project. Instead, he suggests that “best-in-class” technologies “would displace less environmentally and ethically sound oil sources.”
However, he emphasizes that Canada has a crucial role in developing sustainable energy solutions.
He said, “We support strong actions to enable the transition to a low carbon future. We are also strong supporters of Canada’s action on carbon pricing and other climate policies such as legislated caps for oil sands emissions.”
Teck & SunMine Solar
On January 15 this year, Teck announced its December 2019 purchase of SunMine solar energy facility in Kimberley, Alberta. Kimberley’s Mayor Don McCormick explained this sale is consistent with Teck’s commitment to sustainability. (bit.ly/2PNr2vb)
Teck’s stated goal echoes Trudeau’s commitment: “As part of our commitment to climate action and responsible resource development, Teck Resources set an objective to be carbon neutral across all operations and activities by 2050.” (bit.ly/2wpDURA)
The company’s website explains its investment in renewable energy: “The 1.05 MW (megawatt) solar facility, operational since 2015, is the first grid-connected solar facility in British Columbia and the first built on a reclaimed mine site, and has potential for future expansion.” (bit.ly/3asC5St)
Conservative dinosaurs’ blame game
Kenney urgently needs to recognize what Lindsay has had the courage and financial fortitude to accept. Climate change is real. Canada must reconcile how to develop resources in a sustainable, environmentally responsible manner.
Author Chris Turner wrote an Op-Ed piece for the Globe and Mail in which he discusses Kenney’s dogged defence of the oil patch. Turner also reminds us of positive, job-creating projects in sustainable energy:
“Calgary-based Greengate Power … will soon start construction on Canada’s largest-ever solar farm project in Southern Alberta – a $500 million build that will employ 500 workers. Those numbers aren’t quite Teck-sized, but the construction will most definitely happen, and the hiring will start this year.” (https://tgam.ca/39nyOUz)
Okay, Kenney and Scheer. What’s your environmental sustainability strategy? How will you work with Trudeau, Teck and others to combat climate change?
Canadians are all ears.
Katharine Fletcher is a freelance writer, author, and visual artist. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org and view her art at facebook.com/KatharineFletcherArtist/