In-Sights

Rising production, declining gas revenue

Sale of crown petroleum and natural gas rights in the first nine month of 2019 totalled $12 million. The average for the first nine months of the preceding 20 years was $448 million.

That is a reduction of more than 97%.

Source: Disposition of P&NG Rights – Province of BC

That result is not because fossil fuel production in British Columbia has dropped.

Source: Statistics Canada

Privatization of non-renewable resources is part of the neoliberal agenda that has resulted in rising inequality across the world. Financial elites now receive vast sums that would otherwise flow to all citizens. But that does not satisfy voracious appetites of the new owners.

They want no effective regulation, tax breaks and subsidies.

BC has been a willing supplicant. A current scheme—one that has been underway for almost ten years—is to electrify the gas fields. This involves the public spending hundreds of millions of dollars on distribution networks to deliver subsidized power. Electricity to gas producers is priced far below the likely cost of Site C power and less than two-thirds of the average amount BC Hydro pays to acquire electricity from independent power producers.

Decades ago, the provincial utility was an important part of job creation in BC. However, when pulp, paper and sawlog mills operated, they gave back jobs in return, regular jobs, good jobs. Not a few, but many. Industry today employs more microcircuits than humans so the public subsidy equation needs adjustment.

But those are largely matters of wealth distribution. Even more important is that Justin Trudeau, Christy Clark, John Horgan and other Canadian leaders made conscious decisions to deny the looming climate crisis.

Despite scientific evidence of the critical need to shift to clean renewable energy, Canadian politicians of all stripes are using their authority to increase production and consumption of fossil fuels.

An international agency led by a blue-ribbon panel, Global Center on Adaptation, issued Adapt Now: A Global Call for Leadership on Climate Resilience. It sends a clear warning.

Climate change is one of the greatest threats facing humanity, with far-reaching and devastating impacts on people, the environment, and the economy. Climate impacts affect all regions of the world and cut across all sectors of society. People who did the least to cause the problem—especially those living in poverty and fragile areas—are most at risk...

The natural environment is humanity’s first line of defense against floods, droughts, heat waves, and hurricanes. A thriving natural environment is fundamental to adaptation in every human enterprise. Yet, one in four species is facing extinction, about a quarter of all ice-free land is now subject to degradation, ocean temperatures and acidity are rising, and climate change is accelerating the loss of natural assets everywhere. There is still time to protect and work with nature to build resilience and reduce climate risks at all scales, but the window is closing.

The UN’s Rights Chief recognizes the world is on a path to unprecedented disaster:

The economies of all nations, the institutional, political, social and cultural fabric of every state, and the rights of all your people, and future generations, will be impacted by climate change.