GLOBE Speaker Q&A: The Hon. Seamus O’Regan, Minister of Natural Resources
As we navigate the future of the environment, energy and the economy, questions remain about the best path forward. We sat down with Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, The Honourable Seamus O’Regan, to get his perspective and insight.
What is your vision for Canada’s natural resource sector?
Today, the world is facing a climate crisis. The question for governments, industries, communities and citizens is how we – as a country blessed with a bounty of natural resources –meet the urgency of combatting climate change.
We need a plan to reach net zero by 2050. That plan has to be smart. It has to be thorough, and it has to be honest with our fellow citizens.
My vision for Canada’s natural resource sectors is one that sees them play a pivotal role in in answering these questions and facing that challenge.
Helping to safeguard crucial role that oil and gas plays in our economy and making them more sustainable than ever to help us get to where we need to go.
Harnessing the ingenuity of our forest industry with nature-based solutions to further offset our diminishing greenhouse gas emissions.
Laying the foundations for a greener future in mining industry – a foundation on which we will build and empower an electric energy revolution.
Canada is moving forward with its aggressive climate goals by using everything that has made us the world’s 10th largest economy, by involving every one of our citizens in a collective effort, and by investing in our natural resources.
How is NRCan supporting our resource sectors as they continue to improve environmental and economic performance?
As Canada enters a new decade, our natural resource industries are transforming themselves in order to continue to provide good jobs and new opportunities for Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
Our mining industry is a global leader. It is developing many of the minerals critical to both our clean growth future – for electric vehicles, wind turbines, and solar panels – as well as other important manufacturing sectors such as aerospace and consumer electronics.
Our forests are the most sustainably managed in the world, positioning Canada to be a leader in the emerging bioeconomy. Our oil and gas sector is subject to rigorous environmental and safety requirements, a critical competitive advantage in a world that is looking for responsibly produced energy.
Our electricity mix is the cleanest anywhere. And our nuclear industry is developing small, modular reactors that could open new markets, move northern and remote communities off higher emitting sources of energy and help Canada reach its climate change goals.
Our government is making generational investments – across all resource sectors. These investments are driving change, spurring innovation and leading to exciting new technologies.
For example, we’ve approved $275 million in federal contributions for the LNG Canada facility — including $55 million for critical local infrastructure. Once built, this will be among the cleanest LNG facilities of its kind anywhere.
At the same time, we’re investing in emerging opportunities, such as renewable energy and the emerging bioeconomy. All with the goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.
That’s how we create the future and ensure that our natural resources will continue to be a source of prosperity for generations to come.
How are we using technologies to leverage the massive resource assets we have in our country?
Our resource sectors are embracing the possibilities of new technologies. The mining sector, for example, is using artificial intelligence, drones and machine learning to make their operations more efficient – and using electricity to make them more environmentally-friendly.
In the fight against climate change, how we develop, move and use energy is central to our efforts to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. We need to think differently about how we power our factories, heat or cool our homes and fuel our vehicles. New technology is providing many of those answers – such as powering cleaner oil sands extraction through hydrogen and carbon capture.
Or carbon capture, use and storage, which takes burning fossil fuels out of the air and turns it into useful, new products. Everything from concrete to toothpaste. Ideas like this have helped our oil-and-gas industry reduce the intensity of its emissions per barrel of oil by 28 percent over the past two decades.
Business is stepping up to the plate. The Canadian Oil Sands Innovation Alliance – a group of leading oil and gas companies – is developing technology that could reduce CO2 emissions from the steam-generation process to almost zero.
At the same time, our government is supporting new wind and solar projects, as well as sources of clean energy never before tried in Canada – like tidal projects in the Bay of Fundy and geothermal projects on the prairies.
Small modular reactors (SMRs) have an important role to play in the future of energy. Canada has developed a Roadmap for SMRs and several of our provinces are working together to develop this exciting technology.
All told, Canada is investing more than $2.3 billion in clean technologies, which includes building a coast-to-coast network of fast-chargers for electric vehicles and using the $5 billion Clean Power Fund to deliver affordable, reliable, clean power. Driven by technology and powered by innovation, we are positioning Canada’s resources to play a vital role in this century of clean growth.