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Report ranks Canada 3rd on planet for 'sustainable energy'

Canada is better equipped than almost every other country on the planet to address the twin challenges of a warming climate and strained global energy supplies, a new World Energy Council report has decided.

The Great White North was deemed third out of 94 countries for its ability "to balance the three dimensions of energy sustainability extremely well." Canada ranked behind only Sweden and Switzerland for its policies promoting "energy security, social equity and environmental impact mitigation."

The World Energy Council, a London-headquartered foundation that's been around since the 1920s, pointed to Canada’s high reliance on hydropower and nuclear energy, its relatively high numbers of clean technology patents, and B.C.'s carbon tax.

Overall though, the report concluded, "few countries manage to balance the trade-offs" between the need to provide affordable energy for its citizens, with the demands of a dangerously warming climate.

The report's conclusions were in part based off more than 40 interviews with energy industry CEOs and senior executives, including from oil and gas pipeline firms Enbridge and TransCanada.

That may explain why it makes zero mention of the large, and growing, carbon footprint of Alberta's oil sands.

Yet the report reaffirms the fact, reported this summer in The Tyee, that the oil and gas industry largely supports a market price on the planet's greenhouse gas emissions.

Such a policy, the report argued, "would send a clear market signal to investors and ensure that low-carbon investments are offering the same level of risk-adjusted returns as high-carbon investments."

Nevertheless, Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper continues to deem carbon pricing a "dumb idea."

A separate report, released Monday by the Canadian Youth Coalition at the United Nations climate talks in Qatar, disputes the view that Canada is a "sustainable" producer and consumer of energy.

"The Canadian government's reckless plan to expand the tar sands is making it impossible to live up to even our weak climate promises," Climate Action Network Canada’s Hannah McKinnon said in a press release. "Without an ambitious plan to limit tar sands growth, Canada will continue to have no credibility on the international stage when it comes to climate action."

Geoff Dembicki reports on energy and climate change for The Tyee.

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