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Canada is a top exporter of clean hydro power to the United States and the world’s No. 4 oil producer and No. 5 gas producer.Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press

Nik Nanos is the chief data scientist at Nanos Research, a global fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington and the official pollster for The Globe and Mail and CTV News.

We are in a global energy crisis. So where is Canada?

Prior to the pandemic, most major economies were grappling with how to decarbonize and work toward a new net-zero carbon target. The war in Ukraine has delayed or derailed many of those plans, as countries seek to find alternatives to Russian oil and natural gas. This could be Canada’s opportunity to be a reliable source of energy that is less carbon intensive.

By any measure Canada is an energy superpower: We are a top exporter of clean hydro power to the United States and we are the world’s No. 4 oil producer and No. 5 gas producer. But we could – and should – be doing more.

We are at a moment where our friends are in dire need of renewed energy partnerships, but Canada lacks the ability or willingness to substantively step up.

Canada has no one to blame but itself for this predicament. A recent survey by Nanos for the University of Ottawa’s Positive Energy Initiative suggests that we are both victim to external energy price shocks and ill-prepared to significantly meet the energy needs of our allies in Europe.

TOP SIX PRODUCERS OF

ENERGY IN 2020, BY SOURCE

In thousands of terawatt-hours

HYDROPOWER

China

1.32

Brazil

0.41

Canada

0.38

U.S.

0.28

Russia

0.20

India

0.16

OIL

U.S.

8.3

Russia

6.1

Saudi Arabia

6.0

Canada

2.9

Iraq

2.4

China

2.3

GAS

U.S.

9.1

Russia

6.4

Iran

2.5

China

1.9

Qatar

1.7

Canada

1.7

SURVEY RESULTS

How do Canadian governments

do on the following issues?

Good or very good

Average

Poor or very poor

Unsure

Collaborating to balance economic, environmental and energy objectives

6%

30

55

9

Ensuring energy is affordable as Canada works to meet its climate change targets

7%

32

51

11

Providing policy/regulatory environment for investors building energy infrastructure

8%

31

39

22

Level of agreement on the

following statements

Agree

Somewhat agree

Unsure

Somewhat disagree

Disagree

Canada should meet climate commitments even if it means increasing prices

31%

31

3

13

22

Canada should expand oil and gas exports to help the world have more secure energy supplies

33%

25

9

15

19

Canada's oil and gas sector can contribute to combatting climate change

35%

32

12

11

10

*Numbers may not add up to 100 because of rounding.

MURAT YÜKSELIR / THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE:

NANOS RESEARCH; OUR WORLD IN DATA

TOP SIX PRODUCERS OF

ENERGY IN 2020, BY SOURCE

In thousands of terawatt-hours

HYDROPOWER

China

1.32

Brazil

0.41

Canada

0.38

U.S.

0.28

Russia

0.20

India

0.16

OIL

U.S.

8.3

Russia

6.1

Saudi Arabia

6.0

Canada

2.9

Iraq

2.4

China

2.3

GAS

U.S.

9.1

Russia

6.4

Iran

2.5

China

1.9

Qatar

1.7

Canada

1.7

SURVEY RESULTS

How do Canadian governments

do on the following issues?

Good or very good

Average

Poor or very poor

Unsure

Collaborating to balance economic, environmental and energy objectives

6%

30

55

9

Ensuring energy is affordable as Canada works to meet its climate change targets

7%

32

51

11

Providing policy/regulatory environment for investors building energy infrastructure

8%

31

39

22

Level of agreement on the

following statements

Agree

Somewhat agree

Unsure

Somewhat disagree

Disagree

Canada should meet climate commitments even if it means increasing prices

31%

31

3

13

22

Canada should expand oil and gas exports to help the world have more secure energy supplies

33%

25

9

15

19

Canada's oil and gas sector can contribute to combatting climate change

35%

32

12

11

10

*Numbers may not add up to 100 because of rounding.

MURAT YÜKSELIR / THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE:

NANOS RESEARCH; OUR WORLD IN DATA

TOP SIX PRODUCERS OF ENERGY IN 2020, BY SOURCE

In thousands of terawatt-hours

HYDROPOWER

OIL

GAS

China

U.S.

U.S.

8.3

9.1

1.32

Brazil

Russia

Russia

6.1

6.4

0.41

Canada

Saudi Arabia

Iran

6.0

2.5

0.38

U.S.

Canada

China

2.9

1.9

0.28

Russia

Iraq

Qatar

2.4

1.7

0.20

India

China

Canada

2.3

1.7

0.16

SURVEY RESULTS

How do Canadian governments do on the following issues?

Good or very good

Average

Poor or very poor

Unsure

Collaborating to balance economic, environmental and energy objectives

Ensuring energy is affordable as Canada works to meet its climate change targets

Providing policy/regulatory environment for investors building energy infrastructure

6%

30

55

9

7%

32

51

11

8%

31

39

22

Level of agreement on the following statements

Agree

Somewhat agree

Unsure

Somewhat disagree

Disagree

Canada should meet climate commitments even if it means increasing prices

Canada should expand oil and gas exports to help the world have more secure energy supplies

Canada's oil and gas sector can contribute to combatting climate change

31%

31

3

13

22

33%

25

9

15

19

35%

32

12

11

10

*Numbers may not add up to 100 because of rounding.

MURAT YÜKSELIR / THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: NANOS RESEARCH; OUR WORLD IN DATA

When it comes to public opinion, a majority of Canadians believe the country should expand oil and gas exports to help give the world more secure energy supplies (58 per cent agree/somewhat agree, while 34 per cent disagree/somewhat disagree). However, a majority also want Canada to meet climate commitments, even if it means energy prices increasing (62 per cent agree/somewhat agree while 35 per cent disagree/somewhat agree).

While Canadians seem to be of two minds, there is one point of agreement: that federal and provincial governments have failed dismally. Regardless of what side of the environment or energy fence you sit on, you are likely to be unhappy.

Canadians give both federal and provincial governments dismal scores on a wide range of energy-related elements – some in the single digits. Only 6 per cent say governments have done a good or very good job at collaborating with each other to balance Canada’s economic, environmental and energy objectives. Seven per cent say the job done by governments at ensuring energy is affordable as Canada works to meet its climate change targets is either very good or good. And only 8 per cent would rate the job governments have done at providing a clear, predictable and competitive policy/regulatory environment for investors building energy infrastructure as very good or good.

The conclusion? Federal and provincial governments work at cross purposes, there is no nationwide strategy and our energy investment climate is dysfunctional.

The trending public opinion suggests things are not getting better. Canada prides itself on being a responsible environmental steward, but Canadians increasingly believe our credibility is on the decline. Canadians today are three times more likely to say our credibility on environmental policies is lower rather than higher than other countries. Back in 2018 Canadians were divided on this.

People also believe that we are more divided than united on climate action. Back in 2021, 22 per cent of Canadians thought there was a high level of agreement on climate action in Canada. This has dropped to 15 per cent.

But the appetite to be ahead of other major economies when it comes to meeting climate targets is still strong, with 41 per cent saying Canada should aim to be ahead of other major economies, 43 per cent saying it should go at the same pace, and 12 per cent saying it should be behind.

Before the pandemic, concern about the environment had reached an all-time high in the Nanos weekly issue tracking. Canadians were ready for action. Although they agree on the destination, which is a lower carbon intense economy, views are mixed on the journey.

As an energy superpower, we may miss an opportunity to be there to help our allies in the short term, and then may very well end up as spectators in the race to decarbonize as countries transition to natural gas and hydrogen from coal and oil.

We will remain nowhere until the fundamentals are fixed: Get federal and provincial governments to work together and create an environment to invest in a next generation of energy solutions.

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