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Misconception: “The demand for oil isn’t going to go away. Therefore, Canada should continue to develop the oil sands.”

Misconception: “The demand for oil isn’t going to go away. Therefore, Canada should continue to develop the oil sands.”

Misconception: “The demand for oil isn’t going to go away. Therefore, Canada should continue to develop the oil sands.”

The idea that Alberta should continue to produce oil as there is a global demand for it is another narrative preventing Alberta’s transition away from fossil fuels. Proponents of this narrative argue that since global demand for oil is increasing, Alberta should work to meet that demand and that oil production in the province should continue or even increase. While it is true that the global demand for oil is increasing, the argument that Alberta’s oil production should be continued or even increased to meet the demand is flawed for a few reasons.

For one, while the global demand for oil isn’t going away any time soon, the demand for Albertan oil is. Increasing production of cheaper crude in the U.S. and O.P.E.C. nations is making Albertan oil less competitive. Without new pipelines for Albertan bitumen to reach new markets, which are unlikely to be built given the current political situations in B.C. and Quebec, the oil sands will only continue to become nonviable economically.

While the demand for Albertan oil is decreasing, the demand for renewable energy is only increasing. The global renewable energy sector has grown enormous over the past few years, due in part to maturing technologies, emission reduction targets set by the Paris Climate Agreement, and concerns over climate change. Global investment in renewable energy now even rivals investment in fossil fuels. According to Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2017, a document co-published by Frankfurt School and the United Nations Environment Program, “investment in ‘new renewables’ … was roughly double that in fossil fuel generation in 2016, for the fifth successive year.” With it becoming increasingly clear that renewable energy is the future, Alberta would be better served by investing more in renewable energy now before the world moves ahead without it. Investing in renewable energy and in facilities to build renewable energy infrastructure would give Alberta a competitive advantage over those who continue to rely on what will become outdated technology.

Ultimately, while it is true that global demand for oil is still increasing, it is wrong to argue that Alberta should continue or increase its production of oil to meet that demand. Not only is it unknown whether expensive Alberta bitumen will be able to compete with cheaper crude being produced elsewhere but as the world continues to undergo a transition to renewable energy, the demand for oil will begin to slow down. Alberta should invest in renewable energy and in a renewable energy economy today before it is left behind.

[Cover image taken from Pexels, a free photo stock website]

Myth: “Canadian Oil and Gas is more ethical"

Myth: “Canadian Oil and Gas is more ethical"

Myth: "The Albertan economy can't survive without Oil and Gas"

Myth: "The Albertan economy can't survive without Oil and Gas"