Oil production key despite UN climate warnings, Jim Prentice says

WATCH: Alberta Premier Jim Prentice talks to Tom Clark about dealing with environmental concerns in an oil-producing province

Alberta’s premier says it’s unlikely Canadians will get out of the fossil fuel business despite a dire warning from the UN’s panel on climate science.

The fourth and final volume of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change underlined the scope of climate challenge in stark terms. Emissions, mainly from the burning of fossil fuels, may need to drop to zero by the end of this century for the world to have a decent chance of keeping the temperature rise below a level that many consider dangerous.

Failure to do so, which could require deployment of technologies that suck greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere, could lock the world on a trajectory with “irreversible” impacts on people and the environment, the report said.

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WATCH BELOW: Tom Clark boils down the stark warning in the UN’s most recent report on climate change

Alberta Premier Jim Prentice said he is concerned about climate change and trying to reduce emissions but he says we will continue to be dependent on fossil fuels over the next 50-75 years.

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“Certainly we all want to improve environmental outcomes and want to find cleaner sources of energy, but there hasn’t really been the game changing technology developed yet that would allow us, as consumers, to not be using hydrocarbons in a way similar to what we do currently,” he said in an interview on The West Block with Tom Clark.

He also said the vast majority of emissions come from consumers not producers.

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“It’s when we climb in our cars or get on an airplane, or turn on the flat screen television in our house. I mean that’s really the point where the lion’s share of the emissions comes from,” Prentice told Clark.

He said the province is reviewing environmental policies to ensure the province achieves emission reductions but he also said the oil industry will continue to be a strong part of the Canadian economy.

There has been stiff opposition to proposed pipeline projects out of Alberta from the Keystone XL pipeline, to Northern Gateway and Energy East. Prentice says there is only one way to bridging the divide between those who oppose the pipelines and those who want to see them built.

“The bridge, I think Tom, has to be built on the highest possible environmental standards,” he told Clark, “if you’re in the energy business in today’s world, then you’re in the environment business. And you know I’ve made it very clear that we’re going to succeed at both.”

– with files from The Associated Press

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