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New federal climate proposal based on unicorn technology

The federal government is hard at work on a new unicorn factory, run entirely on carbon-neutral thoughts and prayers.

Fiction? Not exactly.

A new report has revealed that the federal government plans a tax credit in the upcoming federal budget to support Big Oil investments in Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). This is both a subsidy and pure fantasy. It makes every bit as much sense as investing billions of dollars in unicorns.

Analysts have long warned that CCS would be a false, ineffective, and risky ‘solution.’ Rather than moving us away from fossil fuels, it would drive up greenhouse gas emissions – allowing big polluters to stick to business as usual under the guise of ‘climate action’. A case in point is Shell’s CCS facility in Alberta, which is currently emitting more than it captures.

Relying on CCS is like dressing a dinosaur in unicorn clothing.

Last week, more than 400 scientists, academics, and energy experts wrote an open letter to the government calling on it not to introduce this CCS tax credit, “because it will constitute a substantial new fossil fuel subsidy.” They point out that, “introducing a tax credit for [carbon capture, utilization and storage] for the energy sector will lock in continued dependence on Canada’s largest and most rapidly growing source of greenhouse gas emissions.”

Let’s be clear: if it boosts Big Oil’s bottom line, it’s a subsidy. This will perpetuate fossil fuel expansion at a time when the industry must wind down if we’re to have a livable climate.

Trudeau’s government has promised to end fossil fuel subsidies by the end of 2022. But introducing this CCS tax credit would break that promise.

You can’t end fossil fuel subsidies by creating new fossil fuel subsidies.

The Canadian government already provides more fossil fuel subsidies than any other G7 country, while most Canadians want them to be scrapped.

At a more fundamental level, the climate crisis isn’t a problem of technology. It’s a problem of politics. Unicorn technology like CCS isn’t going to get out of this.

What will get us out of this is community organizing to change the balance of power, so that our governments are compelled to bring in a just transition for workers and communities, instead of greenwashing and bailing out Big Oil.

Even if carbon capture and storage wasn’t pure fantasy, there would still be another huge problem with it. It’s aimed only at capturing and storing carbon from fossil fuel extraction operations. In other words, even if it worked, it would not capture the emissions from burning all the fossil fuels that are extracted, transported, and exported.

Any climate plan that fails to leave fossil fuels in the ground or organize a managed decline of the fossil fuel industry isn’t a climate plan at all.

Doubling down on CCS instead of winding down extraction of fossil fuels is like trying to wield the One Ring instead of destroying it in Mount Doom. Spoiler warning: that approach doesn’t end well.

That’s why we’re asking you to take a moment to send the government a reality check about the absurd fantasy of this proposal.

Instead of entertaining pipe dreams like CCS, the federal government should be focusing on what’s needed to get us out of the crisis: a just transition. Together, we can make that a reality.