Trudeau’s “Just Transition” Bill Faces Opposition from Big Oil


The government of Canada has ambitious plans for its energy sector, including the introduction of a “just transition” bill to ease the transition from oil and gas operations to the renewable energy sector for currently employed Canadians.

As the amount of jobs in fossil fuels has dropped in recent years, many countries all over the world are implementing programs to provide retraining and assistance for individuals wishing to shift into the renewables industry. This could be one of the first policies to take action on it, and it would be a step toward Canada’s goal of a carbon-free economy.

However, oil corporations and fossil-producing provinces have been strongly opposed to the proposal in recent weeks, as they fear it could disrupt plans for ongoing oil production at a time when global demand is high.

In January, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources Jonathan Wilkinson said that the government would be introducing new legislation to address the issue of green energy transition employment.

“I’ve said it many times publicly that I do not believe that the challenge we are going to face is that there are workers who are displaced who will not find other good-paying jobs,” said Wilkinson. “I am actually quite worried that there are so many opportunities… we will not have enough workers to fill the jobs.”

According to Wilkinson, he has been collaborating on the bill with NDP economic development critic Charlie Angus and Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan.

The plan’s announcement, however, has been met with a variety of reactions. While environmentalists praise the initiative, oil-producing provinces of Canada are concerned about its potential impact on their economy. Alberta, a large oil-producing province, has been the main source of opposition. To date, the oil and gas industry has contributed 5% to Canada’s GDP, but officials in Alberta have warned that this number could drop if the bill is passed.

“When I hear the words “Just Transition” it signals eliminating jobs, and for Alberta, that is a non-starter!” tweeted Alberta Premier Danielle Smith in January. “The federal government’s ill-conceived and short-sighted plan is extremely harmful to the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who are supported by the energy sector and will be detrimental to Canada’s economic recovery.”

Alberta’s minister of environment and protected areas, Sonya Savage, also expressed on Twitter: “We expect the federal government to stand up for our world-leading oil and gas employees instead of trying to eliminate their jobs.”

About 185,000 people in Canada are employed in the oil and gas industry as of today. Smith is suspected of using the bill to try to persuade voters to vote conservative in the upcoming provincial election in May.

Smith addressed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau by letter last month, hoping to set up a meeting in February to discuss the bill and reach an agreement. “It would be premature and ill-advised to signal the end of a vibrant, thriving industry that has the ability to reduce Canada’s and the world’s emissions through technological innovation and increased exports of LNG (liquefied natural gas) and other clean-burning fuels the world so desperately needs.” she wrote.

Smith also suggests that Trudeau rebrand the bill as the “Sustainable Jobs Act” to accurately reflect the value of natural gas to the green transition and the importance of including oil and gas jobs.

The government is unlikely to go forward with the workforce transition bill at least until the spring.

Energy corporations are accusing local and federal governments for obstructing growth while the climate policy dispute continues. Cenovus Energy Inc. CEO Alex Pourbaix stated that poor relations between the federal and Alberta governments are limiting significant negotiations about carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology investment.

“It’s very hard to have meaningful discussions with another party when you’re lobbing rocks at each other.” said Pourbaix, “I would like to see the temperature turned down a little bit.”

While the rest of Canada is showing signs of moving forward on climate policy, oil-producing Alberta is not thrilled about the idea. The provincial government sees oil and gas as crucial to Canada’s future because they fuel economic growth and contribute to worldwide energy security.

Trudeau’s Liberal government, on the other hand, plans to implement measures that get Canada ready for the unavoidable green transition. Numerous important climate concerns are being ignored as the two organizations continue their dispute, which might disrupt Canada’s efforts to meet its climate goals in the near future.

Original source material for this article taken from here

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Written by Olivia Woods

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