Late 19th century novelist and humorist Mark Twain famously said that, “Truth is stranger than fiction.” Seldom have those words been more clearly illustrated than in the campaign by Western countries – Liberal-run Canada playing a starring rhetorical role – to rid the world of fossil fuels.
In supreme irony, the first gathering aimed at that virtually unattainable objective took place in the country now suffering the worst consequences of pursuing it. On March 1, 1995, the first United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP 1) began in Berlin. Thus also began Germany’s regrettable journey toward trying to become “carbon-free.”
Over the past decade, Germany has been shuttering not just many of its high-emitting coal-fired power plants but also its zero-emission nuclear power plants. That unfathomable decision was based on a plan to replace them with electricity from windmills plastered all over the picturesque German countryside and solar panels bolted to centuries-old rooftops. Germany being often cloudy and frequently calm, however, this predictably proved both prohibitively expensive and completely unreliable. On some of Germany’s coldest, darkest winter days, this enormous and complex infrastructure has produced no power at all. A genuine “net zero.”
These innate and insurmountable physical limitations forced Germany to build a vast array of “backup” gas-fired power plants and to become ever-more dependent on Russian natural gas, mainly via the gigantic Nordstream-1 pipeline that was to be matched by a second line. Then came Russian dictator Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Germany’s dependency left it no alternative than to continue importing Russian natural gas at reduced volumes but much higher prices, thus simultaneously doing grave damage to Germany’s economy and providing the funds Putin needs to continue his murderous war on innocent Ukrainians.
The overall global oil supply situation is also a huge boon for Russia. Since COP 1, total crude oil demand has increased from 64 million to 100 million barrels per day. And despite all the “net zero” rhetoric, the International Energy Agency forecasts that demand will keep on growing for at least several decades more.
Even as oil demand increased, the environmental, social and governance (ESG) movement pressured investors to unload their oil industry holdings. Faced with depressed share valuations reflecting their perceived status as a “sunset industry,” plus the increasing reluctance of banks to underwrite new energy projects, the rational course for oil and natural gas producing companies was to pay out large dividends to shareholders generated by the cash flow from existing production rather than reinvest in production growth. Thus, demand grew while supply stagnated. The Ukraine crisis revealed just how narrow the world’s supply margin has become. Regrettably, most of that margin is in Putin’s hands.
And now, amidst the wanton attempt to destroy a civilized democracy and a global oil and natural gas shortage, what does our country, which possesses one of the planet’s largest endowments of oil and natural gas, do to help? Basically nothing – because our fanatically anti-fossil fuel government has stymied the construction of both export pipelines and liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facilities.
The importance of unleashing Canada’s vast oil and gas resources has never been clearer, except to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. During his trip to Latvia in March, a reporter asked whether Canada could help replace Russian oil. Trudeau’s answer illustrated the fanatical depth of his worship at the net-zero altar: “We will be there to support, as the world moves beyond Russian oil and indeed, beyond fossil fuels, to have more renewables in our mix.”
And in late August, when Germany’s left-wing Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, virtually begged Canada to increase its natural gas exports as soon as possible by building LNG plants on our east coast, Trudeau’s reply was even more unhinged: he said there was no “business case” for LNG, and that Canada should instead invest in a facility to produce hydrogen in Newfoundland. This is a completely unproven technology with enormous technical, logistical and business risks and a time-frame of at least a decade. In other words, Germany will be getting help from Liberal-run Canada approximately never.
These incredible answers came as Ukrainians and their beautiful country were being ravaged by a megalomaniac who threatens civilization with nuclear Armageddon. No doubt Putin is grateful to Trudeau for helping him control international oil markets by having hamstrung Canada’s supply potential. It was Vladimir Lenin, Russia’s first Communist dictator and murderer of Russia’s last Czar, who is widely credited with coining the phrase “useful idiots.”
There’s a second country that’s a big winner from the West’s fixation on net-zero. That country is run by another despotic dictator, this one named Xi Jinping. The Chinese president has promised to reduce carbon emissions, but this is utterly insincere. Among the counter-evidence: China already has nearly 1.1 million megawatts of coal-fired generating capacity – well over 200 times Canada’s total. And while Canada’s capacity is declining towards zero, the Global Coal Plant Tracker shows that China has nearly 200 additional units under construction, with hundreds more planned.
The reality is that China pretends to reduce emissions while increasing cheap coal-fired power generation. North American and European politicians worshipping at the net-zero altar meanwhile implement policies mandating costly and unreliable wind and solar power generation, combined with continually rising carbon taxes. As a result, our manufacturers simply cannot compete, leaving us no other choice than to import Chinese-made goods, which helps the Chinese government further strengthen its global political and military standing. As I’ve mentioned before, among those Chinese manufactured goods are the solar panels and wind turbine components that countries like Canada import and install to produce over-priced, intermittent power, even as the Trudeau government prevents us from using the resources we already have in the ground to produce abundant, reliable and inexpensive power.
Who could ever have imagined that the West’s attempts to phase out fossil fuels, which supply 84 per cent of global energy, would leave two dictators in control of both global energy security and the supply of manufactured goods? The truth is indeed sometimes stranger than fiction. Here it’s worth recalling the rest of Twain’s famous line: “But it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.”
Gwyn Morgan is a retired business leader who has been a director of five global corporations.
Source of main image: Paramount Pictures.