Magazine article Alternatives Journal

Step Back from the Cliff

Magazine article Alternatives Journal

Step Back from the Cliff

Article excerpt

THE RECENT Bitumen Cliff report produced by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) argues that the economic risks of tar sands development outweigh the rewards. It also foreshadows a future dystopia where--thanks to our devotion to the Orwellian-named "ethical oil"--Canada becomes the planet's friendliest petro-crack dealer.

Using economic theory and real world data and experience, Bitumen Cliff states: "The combined outcome is a self-reinforcing staples trap, whereby the faster Canada exports its latest staple, the less diversified and capable the economy becomes--and hence all the more dependent on finding more staples to export."

Of equal concern is the risk of falling into a carbon trap, whereby an overreliance on bitumen locks Canada into a carbon-dependent development path. "By investing so heavily in an industry that is ultimately constrained by climate change, Canada limits its capacity to adapt to climate realities, and undermines our ability to foster new, sustainable industries."

Bitumen Cliff recommends a range of actions and initiatives to avoid these traps, foster a more vibrant Canadian economy and protect our natural inheritance. It encourages a national macroeconomic strategy that puts the environment at the centre of its decision making, thereby supporting more capital investment in non-resource sectors while also seeking to recoup a larger share of windfall from resource profits. Likewise, CCPA suggests we power this progress with a new national energy plan that generates conservation and efficiency via enhanced incentives for all users, while seeking to multiply public investments in clean, renewable energy. …

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