If we’re eventually unsuccessful at combating climate change, it won’t be because of the solutions at our disposal but, rather, because of the debate about them.
It’s no secret that the political discourse in Western democracies is growing increasingly hostile, partisan, and tense. The focus, it seems, is on gaining golden stars from the political base, not finding tangible and actionable solutions to overcome the challenges we face.
This dynamic is true for all societal debates. However, it is truly dangerous only in one area: climate change, where we are running against the clock. Particularly, if we believe the public narrative is not shy about using terms like “crisis” and “emergency” on a daily basis.
Yet, stunningly, the idea the “climate emergency” can’t just be solved defies common sense solutions. Apparently, it can only be solved in a particular way and without involving energy companies – which is why emerging carbon tech is getting so much pushback.
Solution-focused people, however, have long understood the value that carbon tech brings to the design of a pathway to net-zero. And finally, after years of advocacy and innovation by Canada’s energy sector, the Liberal government included it in its climate plan earlier this year. The Liberals realized that their bold climate goals are not achievable without the help of carbon tech – which could help achieve 60% of the 2030 goal to cut 200 million tonnes of carbon emissions.
In a nutshell, carbon tech reduces, recycles, and returns emissions safely underground. It’s a technology that has been proven to be safe and effective. Millions of tonnes of CO2 have already been transformed into products and returned underground.. And it’s just getting starting.
Yet, like any innovation in our free market-based system, it requires incentives to further advance its development. That is why the tax credits that the recent federal climate plan and budget account for make so much sense. They will accelerate developments in this technology, making it cheaper and available to a wider audience.
The beauty of carbon tech is that, unlike other proposals, it does not require us to reduce our overall economic activity. With the cost of living increasing with no end in sight, we simply cannot afford to ban and limit industries that drive a significant amount of economic activity.
The livelihoods of Canadians from Halifax to Victoria depend on the energy industry. And they will continue to do so in the coming decades because today, the demand for energy cannot be met with windmills and solar panels.
And not only does the demand include driving a car or cooling and heating your home, all of these could be reduced. It includes the manufacturing of almost every item you see around you while reading this article, the construction of homes, the transport of people and goods, and – since the horrific developments in Europe – the protection of our liberal democracies by becoming less dependent on our adversaries like Russia.
All of these things are in high demand. And they continue to be in high demand. Most policy proposals suggest an either-or scenario. Either we continue our way of living, or we cut it entirely and accept a shrinking economy. With carbon tech, we can continue our way of living until we can afford to meet our demand with alternative energy sources.
The federal government needs to drop the unfair narrative that Canadian energy companies are the source of all evil. It needs to continue its support for the continuous development of technology that can protect our way of living and provide a path to a low-emission society. Canada already is world-leading in carbon tech. Imagine what will be possible once we finally start to take this seriously.
Last I checked, the challenge was to lower emissions. So, let’s transition off of emissions and not oil and gas. New carbon tech lets us do that.
Michael Binnion is the Executive Director of the Modern Miracle Network, whose mission it is to encourage Canadians to have reasoned conversations about energy issues.