Energy and global warming are environmental challenges that put the very future of our planet at risk.
Energy is the source of vital human needs like warmth, light, transportation and food. Energy is an economic necessity required for the production of goods, and energy industries employ millions of people worldwide.
A historic struggle over energy policy is being fought globally and in Canada. International treaties to stop climate change, environmental campaigns, and the forces of economic globalization are each advancing an energy agenda that is conflicting with each other.
There can be no successful, meaningful or viable energy policy for Canada that does not respect the views and interests of the working people who produce, distribute and process this country's energy resources.
It is the very exclusion of these interests that allows the world's largest corporations to continue the policies that have brought the world to the brink of environmental disaster and alarmingly depleted this country's energy resources.
At the same time, our sovereignty and ability to govern Canada's energy future is being eroded quickly by continental integration with the United States facilitated by free trade agreements such as NAFTA.
Will Canada be part of the solution or the problem in addressing greenhouse gases and the environmental impacts of climate change on earth?
Will Canada choose to use energy resources for Canadian development and energy security, or allow uncontrolled exports of energy to the United States, leading to the complete continental integration of our energy markets?
Will Canada respect and care for the communities and the tens of thousands of working families that will be impacted by environmental and economic change or will they be left to fend for themselves while energy corporations protect their investments and profits?
Those are some of the questions we are facing.
Energy Deregulation and privatization
Canada's energy industries have been developed under public regulation at the federal and provincial levels. Public regulation in Canada has reflected the strong role by governments in developing our economy and infrastructure, including our energy capacity.
Energy and electricity are essential public services and must not be managed by free market policies. The exclusive right to set the price of electricity must reside with provincial and local regulatory authorities that act in the public interest. CEP opposes privatization and deregulation of electricity.
CEP believes the oil and gas industry should be under public ownership. CEP calls on the Canadian government to again acquire a controlling interest of a major integrated oil company and to use the company as a means to implement public policy in the energy industry.
CEP members understand the necessity of taking action on climate change. From working in the energy sector and being aware of current detrimental and unsustainable rates of natural resource exploitation, we have developed a vision of a sustainable environment and a prosperous economy that requires and can provide a stable energy supply. We envision that the energy industries of the future will be increasingly diversified, renewable and smaller scale. Our homes, workplaces and transportation systems will be more energy efficient and technologically advanced.
Greenhouse gases produced by non-renewable fossil fuels will be reduced, with tremendous implications for workers and entire regions of Canada. However, in our view, these changes do not necessarily mean a lesser standard of living and fewer good jobs in the energy industries.
The key to this positive and necessary future is democratic, public control and regulation of our energy resources and just transition measures to ensure that today's working families and communities are included in tomorrow's energy industries.
CEP calls for a new, national Canadian energy policy. This policy must embrace a national consensus and should be the product of a national debate involving all levels of government, industry, workers, consumers, First Nations and community representatives.
This new energy strategy for Canada should include:
- an action plan to meet the global challenge of climate change, including mandatory targets and requirements embracing all provinces and all sectors of the economy. Canada's action plan must result in reductions of greenhouse gas emissions in this country as soon as possible;
- an expansion of east-west oil pipeline capacity, including building a pipeline entirely located in Canada, to bring oil from Western Canada to the East;
- the repeal of the energy provisions of NAFTA, and the rejection of similar energy provisions in any future trade agreement;
- the reinstatement of the 25-year requirement for proven reserves of oil, gas or any other energy resource as a precondition for exports;
- a freeze of pipeline capacity to the United States for crude oil, bitumen and natural gas and a freeze at 2007 levels of all electricity exports to the US until a new Canadian energy policy creates a context for energy exports that is consistent with our national interest;
- energy conservation.