Continuing Canada's search to conquer new Asian energy markets, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver was in Daegu, South Korea, this week to address the World Energy Conference. Oliver is on an extended tour of the region and just last week signed an agreement with Japan seeking to promote trade and investment in liquefied natural gas (LNG) and oil by creating a forum for the exchange of information and discussion.
Called a "strategic energy partnership" with Japan, the practical work will focus on infrastructure development, the lack of which is a principal obstacle to Canada's greater participation in global LNG markets. The agreement follows on from the meeting three weeks ago between Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper.
It provides not just for the possibility of bilateral government-to-government discussions, but also for the inclusion of provincial representatives without excluding representatives of industry either. That development came on top of Malaysia's announcement also last week, that it would seek to invest $36 billion in Canadian energy industries.
In South Korea, Oliver stressed what he called Canada's "open, market-based approach to trade and investment" and promoted Canada as a "destination of choice" for natural resource investment from Asia. At the same time, he acknowledged that long-term prospects are dependent upon swift construction of necessary infrastructure, to which opposition from environmental groups and First Nations (i.e. Canadian "Indians") have been throwing up roadblocks.
Environmental groups in Europe and the United States have also been pressing their governments to disadvantage the product of Canadian energy projects, but Canadian proponents have objected that these are false objections encouraged by those governments and are in fact protectionist in intent.
In this connection, the Ottawa government has been insisting that objections to the energy development in Alberta and British Columbia are not well founded, insofar as their energy footprints are as small as those of "traditional" energy development projects when transportation to end-consumers is included as a carbon cost.
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Thus yesterday Oliver's office issued a separate statement concerning the first Energy Efficiency Market Report by the International Energy Agency (IEA). The report ranked Canada second in the world for its rate of energy efficiency improvement between 1990 and 2010. The IEA concluded that the country's 25.3 per cent growth in efficiency improvements throughout the economy over those two decades "resulted in over $32 billion of avoided energy expenditure in 2010, and saved an amount of energy equivalent to the total Canadian electricity production in 2010."
The IEA report also noted that Canada is the first country to adopt ISO 50001 as the national standard for energy management systems for industry. This is a standard of the International Organization for Standardization that promotes development of energy management systems to facilitate organizational adoption of methods for integrating energy management into overall efforts to improve quality and environmental management.
By. Robert M. Cutler