Friday, April 05, 2019

Norway Shines a Light We Don't Care to See

Little Norway and it's big sovereign wealth fund, the world's largest, are once again leading the way, this time by plunging into alternative clean energy investment. Not for the first time Norway is demonstrating how screwed up Canadian energy policy has become and will continue to be until we get competent political leadership that, sadly, is nowhere on the horizon.

The first time was when Norway adopted Peter Lougheed's advice on managing fossil energy resources. Norway went by Peter's book. Alberta, they had this guy named Klein with other ideas. The Norse quietly went around gathering their North Sea resource wealth, banking it in their sovereign wealth fund, and ultimately amassed a fortune. Klein, and every incompetent yahoo who followed him plunged his province onto a whipsaw of boom and busts that Albertans periodically celebrate with bumper stickers reading, "Dear God, please give us another oil boom and, this time, we promise we won't just piss it all away."  God must be tired of hearing that.

Part of that Norwegian miracle is not pissing their wealth away. That means they have to find ways to invest their money that will deliver reliable returns and grow their fund ever larger.  And they've chosen to invest in clean, renewable energy.
Norway’s $1tn oil fund, the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, is to plunge billions of dollars into wind and solar power projects. The decision follows Saudi Arabia’s oil fund selling off its last oil and gas assets. 
Other national funds built up from oil profits are also thought to be ramping up their investments in renewables. The moves show that countries that got rich on fossil fuels are diversifying their investments and seeking future profits in the clean energy needed to combat climate change. Analysts say the investments are likely to power faster growth of green energy. 
Norway’s government gave the go-ahead on Friday for its fund to invest in renewable energy projects that are not listed on stock markets. Unlisted projects make up more than two-thirds of the whole renewable infrastructure market, which is worth trillions of dollars.
You see, Norway has an approach that could be summed up in a word, oh let me see, "responsible." By contrast, Canada's politicians have been as responsible as a crack addict. They're like junkies when it comes to royalties. They'll take whatever pittance the foreign energy giants throw their way. Then, when they do get some money, like their own bumper stickers admit, they just "piss it all away." It's gone, they have nothing to show for it.

The Globe's Gary Mason touched on Alberta's juvenile recklessness in a recent column, "Jim Prentice was Right."

In the run-up to the 2015 election, then-Alberta Premier Jim Prentice was asked by an interviewer about the perilous state of the province’s finances, which had recently taken a nasty negative turn as a result of a precipitous drop in oil prices.

“In terms of who is responsible,” Mr. Prentice said at the time, “we all need to look in the mirror, right. Basically all of us have had the best of everything and have not had to pay for what it costs.”

...And in Alberta, there are many people who can’t handle the truth. 
The fact is, the province’s fiscal situation isn’t much different today than it was for Mr. Prentice, and Alison Redford before him, and Ed Stelmach before her and Ralph Klein before him. You get the idea. Alberta still relies on the vagaries of the oil industry to pay many of its bills, which is as foolish a strategy now as it was when it first began decades ago.
Actually, you could convincingly make the argument it’s an even worse concept in these times, given the increasingly complex, and unpredictable, nature of a global energy market witnessing a world transitioning away from fossil fuels.
Too many in Alberta want to believe that a new pipeline will fix all that ails the province. That’s a fantasy, one that even the political leaders running to govern the province understand (but won’t admit publicly). A new pipeline would provide a temporary fix, and it would stanch, for a few years, the fiscal bleeding that is taking place. But ultimately, all it would do is allow the government to return to using oil revenues to balance the books, allow a province to live beyond its true means for a few more years.
Justin and Rachel and Jason think that British Columbia should bear the environmental risk of their "Piss It All Away" game, that we should give into these thugs and their crack addict mentality. They feel entitled, there's no other word but "entitled" to put our pristine coastal waters at risk of environmental catastrophe so that they can live beyond their means, just a little bit longer.

I know, let's consult the ancient Greek goddess, Themis.

Now, put permanent environmental catastrophe in one pan, we'll call it British Columbia, and in the other you put rapidly evaporating bitumen royalties that we'll call Alberta. As Peter Lougheed so clearly warned, they just evaporate, leaving ruin in their wake.  Wow, the environmental catastrophe hasn't changed but that gotta-have-it cash, it's gone. There's a clear winner - British Columbia.

Look at that. I haven't even mentioned the climate change impacts of high-carbon, pet coke laden dilbit or the quarter trillion dollar cleanup nightmare of the Athabasca Tar Sands tailing ponds. We'll surely get to that another time.

Today this is just about the puerile recklessness of Justin, Rachel and Jason and the thuggery in the way they threaten and imperil my province, British Columbia, and my coast, the Salish Sea.


Anonymous said...

Last night's debate on what the four wanna-bes are going to do to save Alberta's oil, was mind-splitting. You have hit the nail on the head perfectly. I wish Peter Lougheed were around to see this travesty. He would be the person to perfectly say, "I told you so". Anyong

The Mound of Sound said...

I couldn't bring myself to watch the debate, Anyong. I spent the evening far more profitably reading a Carl Sagan book.

Anonymous said...

Actually...I only managed to listen to half an hour. I couldn't stand it. Anyong