Thursday, June 15, 2017

More Than Softwood and Dairy Products

In the coming NAFTA re-negotiations, Linda McQuaig argues that we should focus on Article 605 of the agreement:

Article 605 limits the power of governments to cut back energy exports. So, for instance, Canada must continue to make available to Americans the same proportion of our energy as in the previous three years.

If there were a global oil shortage -- like the ones in the 1970s -- we couldn't cut back our oil exports to the U.S. in order to redirect the oil to Canadians.

While section 605 has always offended those who care about sovereignty, it poses huge new problems in the age of global warming.

If we're serious about fighting climate change, we're going to have to phase out dirty oilsands production and rely on our remaining reserves of conventional oil (we have about 11 years left, at current rates) while we transition to clean energy, argues Gordon Laxer, founding director of the University of Alberta's Parkland Institute and author of After the Sands: Energy and Ecological Security for Canadians.

Mexico objected to Article 605 and got that provision waived. We should do the same. NAFTA is about more than softwood and dairy products.

Image: businessideas 2015-2016


Hugh said...

Transitioning to clean renewable energy means making do with less energy. Which means shrinking the economy, which the government won't accept. Its primary mandate appears to be to grow the economy.

Owen Gray said...

The issue is what kind of growth, Hugh. The Masters of the Universe preach that unrestricted growth is best. They hate government because they maintain that government is in the business of restricting growth. The goal is sustainable growth -- the kind of growth which recognizes that resources are finite. We are bound by limits, whether or not we like them.

Lulymay said...

It's not only oil export demands that are a problem, Owen. I live in BC and California is anxious to access our water! My understanding is that under NAFTA, we cannot charge the Americans any more than we charge our domestic consumers. If I am correct, when I worked in that area, it cost $100 to apply for a water licence and something like $30 annually going forward. In fact, it took at least 5 years to actually receive a valid, legal water licence because the revenue was not worth putting many bodies towards finalizing the Licence. My memory may not be accurate, but it seems the Water Act was written sometime before 1910 and numerous requests by Water Management folks to have the Water Act updated (must be on the annual Legislative Agenda) saw this notion disregarded by successive Administrations of the Province of BC. As well, accessing ground water has no licencing requirements.

People should be aware of this disaster in the making, and worry about California's ability to consume every drop of natural water supply that BC can produce.!

Owen Gray said...

An excellent point, Lulymay. As Walter Huston said in The Treasure of Sierra Madre, "Sometimes water can be more precious than gold."

Steve said...

Owen I think that even Adam Smith and Ayn Rand would agree, the day of centrel power is done for the average consumer. Raise the price for any transmission to high and I will take over my own roof and my own air and a battery to capture all, and tell you to go fuck yourself, but really mean it this time.

Owen Gray said...

Cartels -- like OPEC -- are having a tougher time these days than they did two decades ago, Steve. But they've captured governments. So they're still holding the line on prices and policies.