After reading the Trottier Project's Inventory of Low-Carbon Energy for Canada, what I find most striking about the results is how utterly unremarkable they are.
The findings on Canada's reserves of low-carbon energy are consistent with recent inventories of U.S. renewable energy assets. And the results are the same in Germany where, at a Canadian latitude, they're already generating huge amounts of renewable power.
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What's remarkable is that we still go to great lengths to find deposits of filthy oil, when the wind blowing overhead somehow goes unnoticed day after day. While oil and coal are scattered in just a few places, the sun and wind are ubiquitous.
The good news about the Trottier Project report is its potential to put new pressure on Canada to continue an inevitable transition, from a petro-state toward something very different. All the evidence—on the rising tide of climate change, on the falling costs of low-carbon technologies, on the shining potential of a green economy—shows that the tar sands are the last gasp of an earlier era. But now, it's decision time, because if we burn them, we help foreclose the possibility and promise of the next era.
By pointing to a new direction for Canada, An Inventory of Low-Carbon Energy adds to the overwhelming weight of evidence that the profit motive of the fossil fuel industry stands in the way of the low-carbon transition.If we could work around that, we'd be well on our way.
The report shows that the technologies and supporting deployment strategies are already within our grasp. Our task now is to continue building the momentum.
Bill McKibben is founder of 350.org, one of the world's leading low-carbon advocacy organizations.