ENERGY TRANSITION & CLIMATE CHANGE SOLUTIONS: Aug 29, 2020

QUOTABLES:

Building on our track record in renewable investing, Mark (Carney) will help accelerate our efforts to combine better long-term outcomes for society with strong risk-adjusted returns.

Bruce Flatt chief executive Brookfield Asset Management
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Today’s Headlines

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Main Headline:

Chrystia Freeland and the return of Mark Carney to Canada could spell hope for a more coherent climate plan.

Old habits are hard to break. Addictions are the toughest of all.

So, when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau travelled to Houston in March 2017 and declared fealty to a fossil-fuel industry already entering its sunset years, he showed it was bound to be a long, hard climb back to more sober-minded policy-making.

“No country would find 173 billion barrels of oil in the ground and just leave them there,” Trudeau told participants at the big CERAWeek oil and gas conference. “The resource will be developed. Our job is to ensure this is done responsibly, safely and sustainably.”

The question for Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland as she settles into her new cabinet portfolio is whether that statement still rings true in the context of a global health emergency, an accelerating climate crisis, a mounting wave of fossil-fuel divestment and stranded assets, and the meteoric rise of clean energy alternatives.

No coherent post-carbonization plan

Nearly three and a half years since Trudeau’s speech, the world has changed. Canada, for the most part, has not. But now time is running out for the federal government to get this particular monkey off its back while the new, post-carbon economy takes shape, around the world and in real time. With Canadian jobs, prosperity and innovation hanging in the balance, a new finance minister and the return home of the world’s most respected central banker may add up to the country’s last, best chance to avert the devastation that would result from missing this opportunity.

It isn’t as though Ottawa was taken by surprise. By the time Trudeau spoke in Houston, the early signs of the fossil-fuel industry’s now-accelerating collapse were in plain sight. Oil prices had been below historic levels since 2014, with some traders predicting 10 years of poor markets as far back as 2016. Fossil-fuel divestment was gaining momentum. Renewable energy investment was rising as technology prices began to plummet, and analysts had already long suspected that electric vehicles would soon be cheaper to own and operate than the internal combustion variety — with dire consequences for the industry that supplies the raw material for gasoline.

Those emerging trends are now a landslide. In late May, the European Union confirmed “green strings” on a €1.75-trillion recovery plan and budget. In mid-July, Democratic nominee Joe Biden added a US$2-trillion climate plan to his campaign platform. And on August 11, Biden named a running mate, California Senator Kamala Harris, who’d proposed a $10-trillion climate plan and boasts a strong record for promoting environmental justice and prosecuting rogue fossil-fuel companies.

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