By Hugh Holland
The Leap Manifesto
The Leap Manifesto presented at the recent NDP convention in Edmonton is laid out in Naomi Klein’s new book entitled This Changes Everything. The book does a good job of emphasizing the urgent need to address some of the world’s ills such as climate change, unsustainable consumption and economic growth (three per cent growth doubles everything in 24 years), income inequality, and international tax havens that are depriving governments of much needed revenue.
However, the book fails badly in other areas. While it rails on about the evils of fossil fuel companies, it fails to mention that fossil fuels were introduced because a population that grew to seven billion in 200 years simply could not survive by burning wood and whale oil as the population of one billion did in 1800. It fails to give credit to many oil and gas companies that are now investing heavily in clean energy solutions. And the remedies she prescribes to replace fossil fuels reveal a total lack of technical understanding.
Assuming the population will grow to 10.6 billion by 2100 rather than the 14 billion UN high estimate, and assuming that conservation by the one billion living in developed countries can offset the much needed economic growth among the six billion living in developing countries (both of which are optimistic assumptions), the global energy supply must grow from 155,500 terawatt hours in 2010 to 237,800 terawatt hours in 2100. Today 82 per cent of our energy comes from fossil fuels. Elimination of fossil fuels will require the electrification of everything and an 885 per cent increase in clean electricity output by 2100.
Ms. Klein and her idealist friends continue to fantasize about how wind and solar power are going to save the world, with no understanding of what that would entail. She grossly misrepresents what is actually happening with renewable energy in Germany and Denmark. Certainly wind, solar and carbon-neutral biofuels can contribute up to 40 per cent of a zero-emission energy supply, but where will the other 60 per cent come from? Hydro is already tapped out in most countries. Natural gas is not clean and proven global reserves will be depleted in 50 years. So the other 60 per cent of a clean energy supply will have to come from safe and affordable nuclear power. But extreme left thinkers like Naomi Klein and Green Parties everywhere continue to vigorously oppose nuclear power.
The ability to supply 237,800 terawatt-hours of clean electricity will require international cooperation to accelerate development in two key areas: finalizing the development of advanced nuclear reactors that eliminate the problem of storing partially spent nuclear fuel, and developing affordable large-scale storage systems to enable the wind, solar and tidal power produced in eight hours per day to be stored for use in the remaining 16 hours. Without nuclear, storing enough intermittent power with today’s leading edge Tesla storage systems at $125 per kilowatt-hour will cost in excess of $150 trillion every ten years.
Until those developments are completed, the world is going to need oil and natural gas for a few more decades. Being the only stable democracy producing oil at a rate that can last for more than 20 years, Canada has as much moral right to produce it as anyone else. The International Energy Agency has stated that emissions from producing and burning Canada’s oil are “not significantly higher than any other source.” Canada’s planned oil production rate is well below our fair share of the global production rate that would keep global warming below two degrees Celsius by 2050. The Trudeau and Notley governments are right to pursue development of our resources and related pipelines in a responsible manner. Many of the ideas in the Leap Manifesto will do much more harm than good.
Photo credit – catchthedetail.com
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