A Vision and Priorities for Canada’s Energy Future

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Source: GLOBE Foundation

Ottawa -- The Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources (ENEV) has released a unanimous report on Canada's energy future, outlining what it calls an energy vision for Canada based on a clear and responsible path for Canadian energy development and a low-emissions economy.

The comprehensive strategy report, Now or Never: Canada Must Act Urgently to Seize its Place in the New Energy World Order (2012), draws on the expertise of more than 250 leading energy stakeholders across the country to address the real and urgent challenges Canadians face in the new world energy order.

In the course of developing its vision, the Committee witnessed a dynamic transformation of the global energy landscape, which Committee members considered as having major implications for Canada.

These changes included new technology breakthroughs, major shale gas discoveries, the development of alternative energy sources, new regulatory regimes, the Japan nuclear disaster, and new sensitivity for appropriate social license to engage in resource development. Aggressive competition for international energy markets has also become a major factor.

'We see Canada's potential as the most productive energy nation in the world, with the highest levels of environmental performance' said Senator David Angus, Committee Chair.

'But we also conclude that there is a great sense of urgency- and we need an energy literacy that includes a profound recognition that energy pervades all aspects of our lives, and is a key element of our social fabric. The future is fraught with peril if we don't get it right,' he noted.

'As Canadians, we take great pride in our energy development,' said Senator Grant Mitchell, Committee Deputy Chair.

'Our world-leading supply of resources in oil, natural gas, hydro and uranium, our advanced development of alternative energy sources, and our use of innovative energy technologies like smart grids and carbon capture and storage integrate into a first-class system to support all Canadians.'

The study produced 13 priorities for action to achieve long-term and affordable energy solutions, addressing the challenges and opportunities of responsible development and energy efficiency:

Canada must strive for collaborative energy leadership
Federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments, industry, environmental groups and Aboriginal leaders need to come together to chart a course for responsible development and marketing of our energy resources.

Advance nation-building through energy infrastructure
Modernize and expand electricity systems and oil and gas pipelines to connect regions and diversify export markets to further strengthen the national economy.

Natural gas: a game-changing fuel
Reliable, versatile and efficient, natural gas is becoming a platform fuel for the Canadian economy; its expansion should be encouraged.

Encourage energy efficiency and conservation and energy literacy
Efficiency and conservation represents one of the most important elements of Canada's energy future. Every citizen must be part of the solution and start by becoming more energy literate.

Frame a strong strategy for energy employment
Governments must work proactively to ensure recruitment and training of the workforce to meet the needs of the growing Canadian energy sector.

Strengthen the foundation for energy innovation
Canada's full potential for future prosperity depends on the effective design and funding priorities of R&D energy programs to unlock the innovative forces throughout the energy system's value chain.

Pursue high-level environmental performance of non-renewable energy sources
Continuous improvement of the environmental footprint of non-renewable energy resources is required, including the minimization of energy sector activities on water, land and air.

Hydropower superpower: energy of the past for the future
This reliable, low-emitting source of energy is a key priority for the country and every opportunity for its responsible expansion must be undertaken.

Foster renewable fuels
Canada must continue to foster its substantial emerging renewable energy resources due to its vast and diverse geography, including massive supplies of water, wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and marine energy.

Regulatory reform
The committee supports the ongoing commitment of federal, provincial and territorial governments to streamline environmental reviews while ensuring rigorous environmental oversight, especially for major projects.

Guide responsible Northern and Arctic energy exploration & development
The development of these resources may reshape the country's energy landscape and has the potential to create tremendous economic and social benefits for Northerners, Aboriginal peoples and all Canadians.

Maintain strong support for Canada's nuclear industry
Nuclear energy has an important role to play in Canada energy future.

Speak for Canada
The federal government must fulfill a leadership role in clearly, accurately and forcefully communicating Canada's energy story to the world.

The report is available for download here

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