Sunday, November 9, 2008

Shell Canada president wants better co-ordination on climate change

Governments across the country need to get their act together on policies to address climate change, the president of one of Canada's major oil companies says.

Brian Straub, president of Shell Canada, said Thursday that voluntary efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emission should be replaced by coherent and consistent government-mandated rules.

"It often comes as a bit of a surprise to hear a major oil company advocating for more and better public policy guidance," Straub said at a news conference in Regina. "But that's exactly what we're after. We believe the time for voluntary action has passed and must be replaced by consistent government policy on a Canadian, North American and a global basis."

Straub was in the Saskatchewan capital to take part in a funding announcement on research into carbon dioxide capture systems. Shell and the provincial Saskatchewan government are contributing $5 million each to create a research centre at the University of Regina which will examine the science and feasibility of collecting carbon dioxide and storing it in underground caverns. The stored CO2 would enable industry to reduce its impact on the climate.

Straub said that if the science can be developed commercially, it could help offset the carbon dioxide produced in the development of the oilsands.

"Shell has an obligation … to address climate change," Straub said. "This is clearly a tool to do that. The world needs energy, the world's going to need more energy, and this is a tool that will be used to address some of that increased CO2 emissions off the oilsands."

Different approaches

In Canada, different jurisdictions have come up with different approaches to encourage the development of environmentally friendly energy sources.

Saskatchewan has set targets that include stabilizing the level of greenhouse gas emissions in Saskatchewan by 2010, reducing levels by 32 per cent from current levels by 2020, and reducing them by 80 per cent by 2050.

B.C. has introduced a carbon tax system that would favour alternative forms of energy while Alberta has devised rules to limit the intensity of carbon dioxide producing industries.

And the federal government has announced a framework of actions to address climate change, but it is not in place.

Straub said governments need to co-ordinate their approaches. World demand for energy is growing, he said, and regulators need to decide how to meet that demand while curbing greenhouse gas emissions in a way that is fair to all industries.

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