Speech to U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Resources
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you Ranking Member Barrasso for the opportunity to speak with the Committee about the inter-connected double threat to the national security interests of both our nations: energy security and climate change.
I appear here to share Canada’s perspective on these urgent matters with our neighbour, closest ally and largest trading partner in my role as my country’s Minister of Natural Resources. I was, as well ﹘ until six months ago ﹘ Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change.
Let me begin with a word about Ukraine. This brutal, illegal invasion launched by President Putin against the people of Ukraine represents a violation of international law and an unjustified attack on a peaceful people.
Canada’s support of the Ukrainian people is unshakable ﹘ to date we have provided Ukraine consequential humanitarian, military and other support. And are committed to continuing to do so.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) defines energy security as the uninterrupted availability of energy sources at an affordable price.
There are some, in both of our countries, who suggest that given the current urgency of the energy security issue, we must set aside concerns and actions relating to climate change.
This position is neither thoughtful nor tenable. Domestic energy security and climate action are increasingly and inextricably tied together. As Canada works to help our European allies at this time of crisis, we are concurrently cutting oil and gas emissions, including through methane regulations, and establishing clean fuel and electricity standards to achieve our ambitious 2030 climate target.
If we look to the present situation in Europe – western European countries are working vigorously to secure predictable energy supplies in the context of an increasingly belligerent and irrational Russia.
In the short term, Europe is focused on replacing Russian energy imports with those from other countries, while aggressively accelerating a transition toward renewables and low-carbon hydrogen in the medium term.
As the President of the European Commission stated recently, “It is our switch to renewables and hydrogen that will make us truly independent.”
In this context, recent decisions by the U.S. and Canada to expand hydrocarbon exports to our European friends to displace Russian oil and gas for the short term are entirely appropriate – particularly since these actions are being taken very much within the context of our respective climate change plans.
However, it is the shift to domestically produced renewable energy and to hydrogen supplied by stable countries like Canada, that will provide true energy and national security to Europe ﹘ and to both our countries.
A clean energy transition will deliver energy security and a sustainable future, enabling democratic countries to wean themselves from petro-dictators who weaponize energy. It will strengthen economies and create jobs. And it will respond to the urgent “code-red for humanity” ﹘ which is how the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change characterizes the climate crisis confronting us.
Given the challenging nature of current geopolitics, the need to be focused on energy security has never been greater – security that can be driven through Canada-U.S. energy collaboration and through joint action on climate change.
Let us commit our countries to the further development of a North American energy powerhouse – one that will facilitate energy security while helping to advance our shared journey down a path to net zero.
Canada and the U.S. already have deeply interconnected energy systems. In fact, 60% of U.S. oil imports and 93% of American electricity imports come from Canada. And all of this flows through a network of existing pipelines – very much including Line 5 and cross border electricity transmission lines.
Going forward, there will be a continuing relationship between our countries in the area of oil and gas. Even in the IEA’s net-zero scenario, there will be a need beyond 2050 for approximately 1/4 of current oil production and 1/2 of current gas production for use in non-combustion applications, such as petrochemicals, lubricants, solvents and waxes. And clearly, countries that focus on producing hydrocarbons with ultra-low production emissions are likely to be the last producers standing.
In the context of the low-carbon energy transition, the opportunities for Canada-U.S. collaboration and mutual benefit are enormous, for example:
Critical minerals – all the way from mines to processing to manufacturing to recycling
Clean Hydrogen – to fuel our trucks, planes, trains, industries and even our homes
Production of renewables energy and transmission of clean electricity across our borders
Nuclear technology – including small modular reactors
Carbon removal solutions
And in the research, development and scaling of a wide range of clean technologies.
As we partner in these areas, we need to be clear-eyed, ensuring that, in moving away from dependence on autocratic hydrocarbon producing countries, we do not inadvertently end up with similar dependence on other autocratic countries in areas such as critical minerals.
I was in Washington last week to advance exactly these conversations – because they are critical to the future of our economies and of our planet.
Canada is committed to working with you to enhance North American energy security, to fight climate change and to create jobs and economic opportunity for the citizens of both our great countries.
The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson
Minister of Natural Resources
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