High-Powered Lobby Calls on Canada to Wean Itself Off Oil


BY MIKE DE SOUZA, POSTMEDIA NEWS JULY 12, 2011 3:02 PM

A wide-ranging group of businesspeople, scientists, investors, municipal leaders and non-profit organizations is urging Canadian energy ministers to use an upcoming national summit to move away from oil, gas and coal and toward a greener economy.

OTTAWA — A wide-ranging group of businesspeople, scientists, investors, municipal leaders and non-profit organizations is urging Canadian energy ministers to use an upcoming national summit to move away from oil, gas and coal and toward a greener economy.

"It's hugely unfortunate that we've waited this long," said Andrew Heintzman, president of Investeco Capital, a Toronto-based firm that invests in clean technology companies or environmentally-friendly products, managing about $40 million in assets for about 100 investors.

Heintzman said he favours immediate action by governments to lead Canadians away from oil and other fossil fuels as part of a long term transition over the next few decades.

"That's not to say you wait until the 49th year and make your change," said Heintzman. "You got to get on it right now and we have to start putting in place the policies that are going to drive a transformative change."

Heintzman and other stakeholders supporting the plan were brought together by Tides Canada, a non-profit group promoting a healthy environment and social justice. It believes that oil, coal and gas will be "supplanted by clean and plentiful alternatives" by 2050. It also believes that economic prosperity can be linked directly with deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions that are normally produced through consumption of fossil fuels.

Merran Smith, the director of the Tides Canada Energy Initiative, said the stakeholders also hope this message gets through to federal, provincial and territorial energy ministers who are scheduled to meet later this month in Kananaskis, Alberta.

Smith said that a global energy transition is already underway, with leading economies such as the United States, China and the European Union making huge investments in renewable energy.

"For Canada to maintain its position as an energy superpower, we need to evolve to be a clean energy superpower," she said. "Canada has the opportunity to do that, because we are blessed with such an abundance of hydro, wind, biomass and other renewable energy sources."

The message supported by stakeholders was based on a policy paper released last spring by Tides Canada that envisions a future with more energy-efficient buildings and cleaner transportation networks in Canada that produce less pollution by 2050.

"It paints a picture of Canada that has moved on as a society that uses very little hydrocarbons (for fuel) and is predominantly powered by clean renewable energy sources," said Smith.

The list of stakeholders supporting the policy paper include the City of North Vancouver, Mayor Ken Melamed from Whistler, British Columbia, as well as scientists Andrew Weaver from the University of Victoria and David Keith from the University of Calgary.

Several faith-based groups also have signed on to support the effort from a variety of different religions.

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