Training drillers and miners

by Milan on June 4, 2010

in Climate change, Climate science, Coal mining, Economics

1) Stopping climate change requires cutting global greenhouse gas emissions to zero.

2) To avoid ‘dangerous’ or ‘catastrophic’ climate change, most of the world’s remaining fossil fuels need to be left underground.

3) For reasons of both fairness and practicality, rich states with excessive per capita emissions must lead the way in cutting. That includes Canada.

As a consequence of these three facts, it seems strange to me that we continue to subsidize and support university training of coal mining engineers, oil and gas geologists, etc. Having people entering that pipeline now implies that we expect these industries to endure for decades: a perspective incompatible with Canada’s stated aim of keeping global temperature rise to less than 2˚C. Probably, Canada’s government should be phasing out support for such training programs, in recognition of how we need to move on to sources of energy compatible with climate stability.

By the same token, government should be phasing out research funding for oil, gas, and coal technologies. This includes drilling and mapping technologies, refining, etc.

Of course, such an approach would demonstrate how climate change mitigation and energy security can sometimes be conflicting goals. Stopping climate change can be a kind of prisoner’s dilemma, in which intelligent behaviour by a handful of states does them no good, if the majority continue to behave senselessly.

Still, we need to start having public consultations about whether the fossil fuel industry has any future and, if not, how we should be positioning ourselves for the great transition ahead.

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