Jason Kenney says access to capital for oil and gas industry projects requires environmental action from industry and government, a statement that marks a major change in tone for the Premier of the Alberta.
Kenney, who is the leader of the ruling United Conservative Party of Alberta, made the remarks during a question-and-answer session at the UCP’s annual general meeting on Saturday.
The question revolved around a comment by Erin O’Toole who, shortly after winning the federal Conservative Party leadership race in August, said that a future Conservative government would commit to achieving Canada’s goals by in terms of greenhouse gas emissions under the Paris climate agreement.
A party member asked Kenney if he was aware of this stance when he decided to support O’Toole in the leadership race and if supporting the Paris deal could hurt the industry Alberta Oil and Gas.
After saying that former Prime Minister Stephen Harper supported the Paris deal because it was an “ambitious target,” Kenney said oil and gas companies were telling him he was on the rise. more difficult to access project finance from lenders without demonstrating their commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. .
“I don’t think Erin [O’Toole] Wrong to say that we have to find a way forward for our industry where we don’t stick our heads in the ground and pretend that the aspirations behind the Parisian thing don’t have a huge influence on how capital is. allocated and how market access decisions are made, ”Kenney said.
‘Walking and chewing gum’
Kenney’s statements come as more banks and international funds, including Deutsche Bank, HSBC and Blackrock, the world’s largest asset manager, move away from investments in the oil sands of the Alberta. French energy giant Total has written off $ 9.3 billion in tar sands assets.
In July, Kenney said he asked Deutsch Bank to provide reasons for its decision to stop funding the tar sands and denounced the “misinformed campaign by European financial institutions.”
But global events and Alberta’s continuing financial woes may have convinced Kenney to try something new.
Alberta is investing $ 1.5 billion in equity and $ 6 billion in loan guarantees in the Keystone XL pipeline, a project Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has vowed to kill if he wins the U.S. election next month.
In order to ensure that Alberta’s investment pays off, Canada must show a potential new administration in the United States that the sector is making progress in reducing emissions, he said.
“We have to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time when it comes to energy and environmental dynamics,” Kenney said. “One of the reasons I supported Erin [O’Toole] does he understand that. “
O’Toole, who joined Kenney for part of the session, said Canadian natural resource companies are making progress in meeting climate goals.
“If we ever replace a barrel of Canadian energy from the global supply, who will replace it?” O’Toole said.
“They don’t care in other countries about carbon intensity, social governance, indigenous engagement. So we should be proud of what we’re doing here.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the UCP to put its annual general meeting online this year, with events spanning this weekend and next.
The party held debates on politics and governance policies on Friday and Saturday.
The one-day session on October 24 will feature speeches by Kenney, O’Toole, CPC leadership contestant Leslyn Lewis, Justice Minister Kaycee Madu, Energy Minister Sonya Savage and the Minister of Employment, Economy and Innovation Doug Schweitzer.