Gondek vs. Kenney: Competing visions of Alberta’s energy future

This column is an opinion by political scientists Melanee Thomas and Lori Thorlakson. For additional info approximately CBC’s Opinion section, please see the FAQ.

In her recent editorial board assembly with CBC Information, Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek conceded that power transition “sometimes comes with so much of pain and angst.”

It additionally comes with so much of politics in oil-wealthy Alberta. 

Gondek gives one vision for Alberta’s power long term. Jason Kenney and the United Conservative Celebration (UCP) be offering a competing view. 

Gondek’s points of interest are set on decarbonizing Calgary’s economy, touting the town’s new clean power tech accelerator aimed toward serving to convey large oil and gasoline firms at the side of researchers, entrepreneurs and academics working to decarbonize the business. 

Gondek ruffled a few feathers ahead of she even turned into mayor for announcing that Calgary needed to “move previous” a focus on fossil fuels because the best form of energy manufacturing.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, at the other hand, is cause on getting Alberta’s economy cooking with oil and fuel once more. Kenney’s moderately unfashionable vision champions fossil fuels and their possible economic prosperity.

As an oil and gasoline booster, Kenney has vowed  to “vigorously protect the commercial interests of Alberta, together with the precise to improve our own natural instruments,” in reaction to the federal government’s formal declaration final November to cap oil and fuel emissions.

What are we to make of politicians with such diametrically hostile views? Our research published this year and ultimate shows extra Albertans give a boost to Gondek’s vision of an power transition than Kenney’s vision of more of the similar. 

And Gondek has some robust new allies that have traditionally had Kenney’s again.

New mayor, new allies 

the brand new mayor may have raised some hackles – together with Premiere Kenney’s – while her first order of industrial was to declare a climate emergency in the oil and gasoline capital of Canada.

However now not not like the Alberta NDP following the 2015 provincial election, Gondek cleverly aligns her messaging approximately energy transition with the massive oil companies centered in Calgary.

Final summer season, the most important avid gamers in Alberta’s oil sands – Canadian Herbal Instruments, Cenovus Power, Imperial Oil, MEG Power and Suncor Power – pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from their operations to net-0 by way of 2050. 

Gondek consistently echoes massive oil’s Pathways to Web Zero. The Whole Lot she’s announcing has already been said by means of business.

Gondek’s message is future-targeted, telling CBC’s editorial board last week “we just sort of stayed caught telling the tale of oil and fuel from a historical standpoint.” 

“I’m lovely glad to be pulling it ahead and speaking about how we’re leaders in that energy transformation,” she introduced.

it’s a message that resonates with such a lot Albertans. 

Toughen for power transition  

Our ongoing research presentations that a clear majority of Albertans want to move clear of fossil fuels, such as oil, gas, and coal. CBC News’ personal polling in 2020 in a similar fashion found that just about EIGHTY in step with cent of Albertans think the oil and fuel-wealthy province should transition towards extra renewable energy. 

Unsurprisingly, we discovered that worry approximately local weather amendment was the largest predictor of give a boost to for transferring clear of fossil fuels towards more renewable power.

Alberta Premiere Jason Kenney is motive on getting Alberta’s financial system cooking with oil and gas again. Albertans who position their hopes for the province’s future in oil and fuel most probably received’t amendment their minds until conservative politicians prevent speaking down energy transition as a risk, in step with Melanee Thomas and Lori Thorlakson. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

Our analysis additionally displays what drives the Albertans who oppose an power transition. The strongest competition comes from individuals with high hopes for the longer term of Alberta’s oil and fuel. Interestingly, this wish in the way forward for oil and gasoline is independent of employment in the industry.

Our study also means that it is going to be arduous to change the minds of those devoted to a long run in response to oil and gasoline. Whilst this staff heard objective details about the industrial advantages of transferring towards renewable resources of power, their opinions didn’t fairly shift in comparison to others who did not receive any knowledge. 

This tells us the minority that holds on to these hopes is probably going to remain stubbornly committed to grease and gas, especially if leaders like Kenney continue to border power transition as a risk.

Cooking up opinions

What politicians say acts like “recipes” for the general public to “cook dinner up their reviews” about public policy, including power transition.  

Even As trade professionals expect many oil and gas corporations will use present windfall prices to pay for power transition, climate change commitments, and greener jobs, Kenney has doubled down on oil and fuel, blending pipelines and petroleum in hopes of producing prosperity. 

Our research means that this message does not resonate with most Albertans. But for some, Kenney’s message would possibly feel so much like comfort food, especially for key portions of the gold standard’s constituency: UCP supporters, financial conservatives, social conservatives and, particularly, people with top hopes within the long run dominance of oil and gasoline. 

Changing those minds received’t be simple.

Changing minds approximately energy transition

Albertans who place their hopes for the province’s future in oil and fuel most probably received’t amendment their minds till a few trade leaders and particularly conservative politicians stop talking down power transition as a threat, and begin talking up the industrial advantages of converting to renewable power.

we do not yet recognize what is going to occur whilst narratives approximately energy transition from trade leaders run opposite to what conservative politicians say approximately it, and what influence in order to have on public opinion amongst those Albertans preserving out wish for the province’s oil and gasoline industry. But there’s for sure we are listening to extra of these perspectives from trade. 

Mark Carney, the former head of each the Bank of england and Bank of Canada, and current UN special envoy on climate action and finance, provides dire warnings of the local weather situation triggering every other financial problem, stressing that businesses and industries that ignore climate amendment possibility going bankrupt.

As a part of the recent United Nation’s COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Carney unveiled  a $ONE HUNDRED THIRTY trillion US non-public sector effort to help the world get to web-0 emissions by 2050.  

Reinventing Calgary

Calgary’s new mayor properly hopes to draw so much of that money to her town. Gondek also explicitly frames her make stronger for climate change motion as an attempt that strains up with the oil and gas business’s promise to cut greenhouse gases. 

And as she advised the CBC News’ editorial board remaining week, Calgary needs to reinvent itself as the energy transition capital. 

“Our popularity can’t be what we did within the prior. It needs to be what we’re doing into the long run and why you must come right here to find your loved ones and what you are promoting.”

Most Albertans will most probably cheer those efforts. 

Convincing the minority of Albertans opposed to moving clear of oil and fuel that power transition is a net sure for the province received’t be easy. The most appropriate may just most probably do it if he selected to. However converting that one thoughts — Jason Kenney’s — might end up more difficult than changing the minds of Albertans aligned with the most beneficial’s narrative that Alberta’s “lengthy-term prosperity” will likely be fueled through oil and fuel.

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