Sweet words from the Petroleum industry by Gérard Montpetit, Aug 7, 2021
Last May 18, the International Energy Agency (IEA) published an earthshaking report which traces the road map towards “…net-zero” greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 2050 …As of 2021, all governments should stop approving new coal mines or oil and gas fields.…” In addition, sales of internal combustion engines should cease completely by 2035  This new energy pathway would actually create more jobs than a «business-as-usual » approach!  Those are the words that we wanted to hear from from such an important agency. We want to cheer; but there are shoals and potholes on the pathway proposed by the IEA.
“… Building on the IEA’s unrivalled energy modelling tools and expertise, the Roadmap sets out more than 400 milestones to guide the global journey to net zero by 2050… »  The temples dedicated to the gods of petroleum are shaken. But the PR experts of the industry and their allies in government offices are already at work to do damage control. The problem is that many words such as “net zero carbon” are ill defined; they have as many different meanings as there are authors writing on the subject. Michelle Gamage gives concrete examples of the confusion that can be caused by the conflicting definitions of such words.
Despite many good points in the report of IEA, their focus on bioenergy is questionable. Clearcutting forests to produce electricity is called «renewable energy»; but is it «sustainable»? We need trees to absorb CO2, not to produce CO2 while burning in a generating station. The electricity generated by a mature tree will last a few moments; but it will take a century to replace it.
Some calculations about carbon emissions make you want to scratch your head. “…When a woman in India or Ghana collects small quantities of wood for her daily cooking, methodologies for carbon offset projects count 100 percent of the carbon in that wood as greenhouse gas emissions. But when an energy company burns millions of tonnes of wood sourced from clearcutting trees in highly biodiverse forests in a power station, all their energy is classified as “modern bioenergy” and therefore by definition “zero carbon…”. Where’s the logic?
Likewise, the destruction of tropical forests in order to produce biofuel with palm oil is utter nonsense.
Its global footprint is three times worst than that of a fossil fuel. If we want to reduce our production of carbon, the proposed remedy obviously must not be more damaging than the original «disease». In Quebec, we have another example of «renewable» biofuel. Presently, regulations state that gasoline must contain 5% ethanol. That would be acceptable if it was produced using waste from our agricultural or forestry industry. Unfortunately, our ethanol is transformed from grain corn in the «bioraffinerie Greenfield Global » at Varennes, east of Montreal. Now, the government of Quebec wants to raise the content of ethanol in gasoline to 15% by 2030. The total footprint of GHG of this «renewable» ethanol (including fuel for tillage, sowing, harvesting, drying plus fertilizer and pesticides) is greater than that of a fossil fuel. A further negative side effect of this proposed 15% content of ethanol in gasoline would mean that almost all the corn grown in Quebec would be required for this bioenergy.  Our government must make a decision; either our agriculture will feed humans or it will feed cars!
In this hit-parade of supposedly good ideas to reduce our carbon footprint, we have to add hydrogen with its rainbow of colors going from green, all the way to grey, brown or even black. True, hydrogen is a colorless gas; here, the «color» defines the form of energy that was used to free H2 from its former molecular state. Green means that this gas was derived using a truly renewable energy such as solar, wind or hydraulic power. At the other end of the spectrum, black hydrogen was derived from coal. Lobbyists will make a big deal about the fact that the only byproduct when you burn hydrogen is water vapor. But they « forget » to tell you that, worldwide, 95% of hydrogen is produced using fossil fuels such as coal, petroleum or natural gas.
One has to wonder if the Canadian Hydrogen Council is trying to save the tar sands by transforming it into hydrogen. As Bruno Detuncq (retired professor at Polytechnique) says in his analysis; “… If Alberta should produce 10 millions tonnes of hydrogen, it would need to bury about 100 millions tonnes of CO2 per year …“  What should you do with this carbon? Bury it underground using the controversial technique of carbon capture and storage(CCS) ? Five hundred signatories wrote a letter to Mr Trudeau to denounce CCS. Their conclusion is brutal; “Carbon capture schemes are unnecessary, ineffective, exceptionally risky, and at odds with a just energy transition and the principles of environmental justice... » 
Following the publication of the report of the IEA, all the Don Juans of the industry are trying to woe us by murmuring the words that we desperately wanted to hear. However, when we analyze their words, we realize that they remain faithful to their mistress, Ms Petroleum. This is the reason why we say a firm “THANKS, BUT NO THANK YOU”
member of CCCPEM (comité des citoyens et citoyennes pour la protection de l’environnement maskoutain)
August 5, 2021
1 ] https://www.nationalobserver.com/2021/05/26/analysis/international-energy-agency-stand-fossil-fuels-game-changer
2 ] https://www.nationalobserver.com/2021/05/18/news/%20stop-coal-oil-gas-investments-international-energy-agency
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