Maybe Alberta Premier Danielle Smith can send an open letter to Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, to accuse him of trying to frighten Alberta’s seniors. 

International Energy Agency Executive Director Fatih Birol says the transition to clean energy is unstoppable (Photo: World Economic Forum, yeah, that WEF).

Or maybe she’ll say nothing at all about the World Energy Outlook report the IEA published yesterday, which concluded that our planet is hurtling toward a future in which clean energy will dominate and fossil fuel use will soon peak before starting to decline.

As Mr. Birol, the Turkish economist who heads the IEA, put it, “The transition to clean energy is happening worldwide and it’s unstoppable. It’s not a question of ‘if,’ it’s just a matter of ‘how soon.’”

But don’t worry, even if Ms. Smith doesn’t say anything about the IEA’s conclusion that by 2030 nearly half of the planet’s supply of electricity will come from renewable energy, solar energy will generate more electricity than the entire U.S. power system does now, and the number of electric vehicles on the world’s roads will increase tenfold, her United Conservative Party’s supporters are sure to deny, deny, deny there’s anything to it.

They’re also bound to point out that Dr. Birol is chairman of the World Economic Forum’s energy advisory board – the WEF having become a bête noir to all right-thinking Canadian Conservatives, and I do mean right thinking. So I might was well point that out myself, deprive them of their meaningless scoop, and spoil their fun in the comments section. 

The New York Times may call the IEA, the Paris-based organization of the 44 countries that represent three quarters of the planet’s energy demand, “the world’s leading energy agency.” But Alberta, which as far as anybody knows is still the owner of the world’s leading “energy war room,” will almost certainly have something to say about that. 

California Governor Gavin Newsom wants to export his state’s tough climate laws to the world (Photo: Gave Skidmore, Creative Commons).

It may be notoriously difficult to predict energy use trends, as the Times admitted in its news story yesterday, but this kind of talk by a respected organization really doesn’t bode well for a province whose government is increasingly dominated by climate change deniers and outright separatists, cheered on by scribblers for foreign-owned newspapers.

And while the IEA predicts global demand for natural gas, oil and coal will peak by 2030, Alberta’s government remains mired deep in denial, enamoured of belligerent conspiracy theories, convinced that if we pump it, they will come. 

That, alas, is unlikely to change even if it becomes more obvious that, almost everywhere else on the planet, things are indeed a-changin’.

The World Energy Outlook projections are based on government policies that are already in place around the world, the IEA’s energy outlook report noted. 

Including, I suppose, jurisdictions like California, where Governor Gavin Newsom wants to export the state’s climate laws to the world. Mr. Newsom, who is said to be pondering a run for the U.S. presidency, recently signed one statute banning the sale of new gasoline-powered cars in the state of 40 million people by 2035. So, as someone said in the CBC’s story on the IEA report, this kind of stuff really should serve as a “wake up call” for Canada.

In reality, it will probably only increase the enthusiasm of the UCP government for such schemes as the planned hijacking of the Canada Pension Plan’s funds, the better to prop up yesterday’s faltering industry. 

The thing is, predictions like the IEA’s tend to build momentum for a policy direction that already makes sense to many countries in the face of increasingly hard-to-deny climate change, as their governments’ policies show.

But who knows? Maybe the UCP will change everything by hiring diesel trucks to drive around Paris with signs saying, “Personne ne veut geler dans le noir!”

The truth? What the UCP says, thinks, or does will have little impact on anything outside Alberta. 

But it just might hurt those of us who live here, and eventually turn Canada’s richest province into a rust-belt backwater. 

Moratorium on renewable energy projects, anyone?

Join the Conversation


  1. The UCP can’t face reality, and it’s obvious. I have heard about some other type of oil discovery around the Cold Lake area of Alberta. It is not oilsands type oil, which means the extraction and refinement methods aren’t the same. Nor is it shale oil. I don’t know what this will achieve, but I doubt Alberta will see any benefits from it at all, because the UCP will let foreign oil conglomerates grab all the wealth it would generate.

        1. Anon: It’s typical business reporting – to wit, uncritical reproduction of a press release to act like a stock tout instead of a reporter. I wouldn’t make any business decisions based on this kind of bumpf. DJC

    1. A…I seem to remember reading, possibly in the Narwhal (???) about oil seeping to the surface a long distance from where the fracking was going on….so bubbling crude ??

      This report is interesting, coming on the heels of Suncor’s CEO, saying something like:
      ” we have to make as much profit as we can, while we can” — Charlie Angus, had some interesting thoughts on that…..

      Unfortunately the report will probably also add fuel(no pun intended) to PP’s agenda– not “allowing ” any of his caucus to have anything to do with the WEF ( freedom of expression much ?) Since he took his name off the WEF list,
      along with other Con’s ,they seem to think footprints don’t show…. think dinosaurs in terms other than oil PP .

    2. There are heavy-oil deposits in the Cold Lake area. It’s not as thick and gooey as bitumen, but still too thick to be a good source of motor fuel. Maybe some new field has gone into production? I don’t know.

  2. People like Danielle wanted us Eastern Bastards to freeze in the dark 40 years ago. they didn’t get their own way but they did damage Alberta’s reputation. deja vu all over again eh ? ( thanks Yogi )

  3. “… a rust-belt backwater.”
    Don’t know about ‘rust-belt’ but backwater about sums up Albaturda’s near future.
    There is not a single plan in place to manage a society of 4 million plus folks after the petroleum is gone. It will be at least one generation of local deniers going broke, selling their toys and standing in line-ups for gov’t handouts before there is enough political support for some kind of non-petro economic agenda.
    It will truly be a wasteland of broken down and rusting out oil-field infrastructure populated by the belligerent and ignorant as broken and wasted as the landscapes they once trod over.

    1. Comments like yours make me glad I’m 68 and not too many more years to face the future in this province. I only wish my daughter and her husband hadn’t decided to settle here.

  4. I thought some more while walking the dogs.
    As demand decreases , the lowest quality, highest cost oil will suffer a collapse in demand. Bitumen is the lowest quality product in the petro-world and is expensive. Next will be Venesualen shale oil, US fracked oil and Mexican heavy crude.

    Saudi light sweet crude and Russian crude will be the last ones standing.


    1. Bitumen is the lowest quality oil when one looks at today’s market as it is a poorer source of fuel than other grades. However, electric vehicles need asphalt and bitumen may well be the oil of choice in the future.

  5. Time moves on. Things change. Perhaps it’s possible to ignore things like a new Tesla charging station here in ‘Bertastan, steps away from a gas bar, but I can see it. Only TBA, the UCP and cult leaders David and Danielle cannot see it.

    The writing is on the wall. Those who cannot face the future get left behind. The past is a place where Alberta will freeze in the dark, all alone. Renewable energy is neither Goliath nor a lion. It’s the future of the planet. Fighting it is like willing the planet and its inhabitants to die.

    1. It’s so true, about getting left behind. Think of the massive Eastman Kodak Company, who blindly refused to accept that digital cameras were the way of the future. They paid the ultimate price and the company was wiped out.

    2. Yep. Danielle is a classic example of a climate denialist warrior. Desperately fighting to protect the past.

  6. I could not agree more but it is indeed very sad that 4 million people will be left in this future backwater province because of one individual that cannot see one inch in front of her eyes. I should be more precise – because of half the population that believe they will have an ARC to save their species in the even of a catastrophe.

    Maybe our pseudo democracy as to change into real democracy so that we do not have an Emperor rather than a real government.

    It is frustrating that in an educated province like ours, people put short term gains ahead of their future because somehow they spent all of their money from the last boom.

    Well maybe that was a bad thought because the greatest genocide ever on Earth was caused by the most educated society at the time in the world. But then again at Danielle Smith and her kind do not believe that ever happened.

    I think unfortunately for some of us the only possibility is moving out. We should allow Daniella and her cult to freeze in the dark in the west, driving Humvees and drinking water sufficiently treated to dump in the rivers. Horrible thought I know, imagine a future Danielle Blade Runner born with 2 heads – WOW

  7. The final sentence “Moratorium on renewable energy projects, anyone?” of this article has little to do with the body of the piece and is somewhat misleading.
    Yes, the market for Alberta’s oil/gas is drying up. 85% of our production is exported and only 25% of that is used for purposes other than being burned as fuel. As the world weans itself off fossil fuels we will see a huge negative impact on the market for our energy and there is little Alberta can do to change or even slow that.
    Renewable energy (wind and solar) is primarily local energy. Why would others import the stuff when they can put up solar panels and windfarms themselves? Any delay in wind or solar energy production here will have no impact on the decline of the oil industry in Alberta.

  8. Nice to get real/Frank discussion rather then a bunch of dazzling numbers we don’t understand ,nice to have a voice outside this strange camp I exist in

  9. Apparently some southern Albertans have finally woke up as this article suggests and are giving Jim Dinning what for.
    “Doesn’t add up: Southern Albertans weigh in on Albertan pension plan proposal”.
    The big question is You fools elected them , now how are you going to get rid of them? Voting for the word Conservative will never work.

  10. Meanwhile, scientists are tearing their hair out:

    The tipping point climate anomalies this year are so dramatic that the peer-reviewed journal BioScience open its article with:
    “Life on planet Earth is under siege. We are now in an uncharted territory.
    “For several decades, scientists have consistently warned of a future marked by extreme climatic conditions because of escalating global temperatures caused by ongoing human activities that release harmful greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.
    “Unfortunately, time is up. We are seeing the manifestation of those predictions as an alarming and unprecedented succession of climate records are broken, causing profoundly distressing scenes of suffering to unfold. We are entering an unfamiliar domain regarding our climate crisis, a situation no one has ever witnessed firsthand in the history of humanity.”

  11. Smith tends to ignore or dismiss whatever does not fit her view, like COVID, so don’t expect any reaction or any intelligent reaction to the IEA report. She has her own way of thinking about the future, which might be charitably called alternate reality, or perhaps more accurately fantasy.

    Alberta desperately needs leadership to adapt to the future, if it wants to avoid being like those declining places that depended on coal and stubbornly refused to deal with reality until it was too late.

    This does not mean totally abandoning our current energy industry now. We can go forward with renewable energy development while continuing with current energy sources. However, Smith and followers seem to view any support of renewable energy as disloyal. But planning for the future and accepting it is not disloyal, it is smart and prudent.

  12. I am hoping that by 2035 (hopefully sooner) Danielle Smith, her UCP government and TBA will be long gone and someone saner will replace this cabal….

  13. Hello David,
    Too funny, “whale oil? Oil of Olay?” It could include some snake oil, too. It’s a hot commodity that is frequently mixed into things in Alberta.

    1. Carlos: Not sure I can’t recall. Sometimes I edit posts that I think make sense but contain grammatical errors, incorrect information, or what I perceive to be defamatory material. In the latter case, I have a low threshold, because it’s a pain in the ass to be sued, and I have been. Sometimes readers accuse me of censoring them when I just haven’t gotten around to moderating comments – I have 28 comments to go through tonight, for example. DJC

      1. Hi David
        Ok I am sorry I made this comment. I certainly do not want you to be sued because of my comments. I did not think I had made any defamatory remark but one never knows. The UCP makes people so frustrated that sometimes I actually feel that only a baseball bat can solve the problem. I am sorry to say this but this is beyond any normal person can take.

        1. Carlos: I might have just missed it, too, or approved in and then clicked delete. These things happen. But I do make a point of personally moderating all comments. And I am cautious – possibly over-cautious – about the potential for defamation. DJC

  14. What will Smith say? Well, here are some potential talking points:
    • The sun doesn’t shine at night
    • The wind doesn’t blow when it’s calm
    • Batteries are expensive
    • Renewables leave a big mess
    • Picking on natural gas isn’t fair
    • We don’t need renewables anyway
    • Solar panels are too expensive
    • Wind power is too expensive
    • Wind turbines are ugly
    • Solar panels are toxic
    • Gas turbines are reliable
    • We’ll have carbon capture any day now
    • Oil wells are good for you
    • Global warming isn’t quite a hoax, but it hasn’t hurt me yet
    • Anyway, everyone knows natural gas is clean, clean, clean!
    • The IEA always gets it wrong, so who cares what they say?

    I’ll leave to you, friends, the fun of rebutting these obvious red herrings and bullshit statements.

    1. Mike– no rebuttal, but you missed the big one on wind turbines, ie: all those dead birds ,hundreds of dead birds littering the ground around the turbines…..biggly sad !!

  15. The one thing I’m sure Smith will DO is make her renewable-energy moratorium permanent. I figure next March is the time renewables companies will desert Alberta for greener pastures–mostly in the US. The pun is intentional, and double-edged.

  16. There is still a wide swath of climate change denialism here in Oilbertastan. But on the broader Canadian political scene, including in the federal Conservative Party, there is more of a denialism of the need to take any action to address it, at least here in Canada. The song goes something like this:

    – Canada only accounts for small percentage of GHG emissions (per capita, we’re among the highest, if not the absolute highest, but the song neglects this fact)
    – if we export liquified natural gas to developing countries to displace coal for power generation, the global level of GHG emissions shows a net decrease
    – “China! India!”

    Of course, what this song really means is that poorer countries have to make all the economic sacrifices, while we in Canada — a G-7 economy — continue to make bank. Not very just, if you ask me.

  17. Nothing the UCP says will have effect outside Alberta? Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t the UCP’s Inquiry into Anti-Alberta Energy Campaigns disturb the sleep of a Sasquatch? And wasn’t that an American Sasquatch?

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.