Reality is catching up to Alberta but it seems like those huge quantities of oil have a way of interfering with common sense. Albertans have been witnessing the death spiral of the Tar Sands with no end in sight. The official cancellation of the $9 billion Keystone XL pipeline is but the tip of the iceberg. The message is crystal clear but is anybody listening?

The Message Is Clear But No One Is Listening

If Alberta’s policy-makers don’t plan for a managed fossil fuel decline, financial and other institutions will make the decision for them.

Alberta’s predictably hostile, defensive reaction to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) landmark Net Zero by 2050 roadmap shows it no longer matters what the Kenney government or its fossil fuel industry allies think about the drive to decarbonize the global economy and hold average global warming to 1.5 degrees C.

The IEA’s call for no future investment in new fossil fuel infrastructure was reinforced scarcely a week later, when three of the world’s biggest oil companies faced deeply humbling challenges from the courts and their own shareholders.

The combined impact is crystal clear: If Alberta’s own policy-makers don’t move to diversify the province’s economy and plan for a managed fossil fuel decline, financial and other institutions that make future fossil fuel development possible will make the decision for them.

Oil demand to fall 75 per cent

One pivotal paragraph in the IEA’s 224-page report heralds an unfamiliar, new world for Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador, and any other jurisdiction that has centred its economy on oil, gas and coal. “Beyond projects already committed as of 2021, there are no new oil and gas fields approved for development in our pathway, and no new coal mines or mine extensions are required,” the IEA writes. “The unwavering policy focus on climate change in the net-zero pathway results in a sharp decline in fossil fuel demand, meaning that the focus for oil and gas producers switches entirely to output – and emissions reductions – from the operation of existing assets.”

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