Moral Obligation

Moral Obligation and Personal Commitment
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What is the extent of our obligations to strangers?

Moral principles are not deducible either from one single principle or from Keywords: act, effect, goodness, moral obligation, motive, principle, reason. Moral obligation is an obligation arising out of considerations of right and wrong. It is an obligation arising from ethical motives, or a mere conscientious duty.

In terms of baseload renewable power, hydro-electricity continues to grow, but is less of a factor and its overall potential is finite, while the social obstacles to nuclear will likely stymie its medium-term development. As for solar, wind and other alternatives, beyond their unreliability, they remain expensive outside of ideal geographic conditions. And it is likely to get worse. A new coal-fired plant built in Asia is estimated to generate approximately twice the full-cycle greenhouse gas GHG emissions of an LNG-fuelled plant , while coal-related pollution results in an estimated 10 times as many deaths per unit of power output as natural gas.

Clearly there would be large benefits in meeting the need for high-volume, low-cost new energy supply using sources other than coal. That brings us to Canada and its potential role. These molecules are being sold at the lowest gas prices on Earth while being developed under industry-leading social and environmental standards. As well, a B. Although the U. That is more plants, and likely more capacity, than Canada ever had in total, and is in addition to the plants announced or under construction in China and India.

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Given what is actually happening around the world, Canada has a real shot at improving the global environment while supporting the social and economic development of emerging countries. Unfortunately, too many Canadians seem oblivious to the realities of global energy economics and the role natural gas could play.

Some evidently believe Canada operates in isolation, i. Consequently, we have chosen a path of increasing regulatory complexity and shifting rules, making it very challenging for pipelines and projects to be built. But this contradicts our national pride in advancing global human rights and health.

Ambient air pollution is said to contribute to more than 10 percent of all deaths worldwide. In addition to an economic development imperative and a business opportunity, is there not a moral obligation as well? Consider Mike Sawyer, a Calgary native and long-time activist now living in B. That would almost certainly delay the project. Sawyer claims full-cycle LNG emissions are percent higher than from a coal-fired facility. At time of publication, Sawyer had not responded to a two-month-old request for a source backing this claim.

He also claims negative impacts to wildlife, water and Indigenous communities, yet numerous First Nations strongly support LNG development. Both statistics are technically correct — and both sides are emotionally charged. Or should we just say no and focus solely on our domestic environmental performance? A common version of the no-LNG argument goes something like this: Canada is a global leader in renewable energy, with about 81 percent of its electricity generated from non-GHG-emitting sources.

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While projects like LNG Canada create jobs and could help developing countries reduce their reliance on coal, the environmental costs to the communities and environment around the LNG facility, in the gas-producing areas and along the pipeline corridor are simply too high. Far better that the country invest its resources, capital and time in leading-edge technology, true renewable energy, increased energy efficiency and conservation.

The latter would include things like LED lights, discouraging air travel, promoting local tourism, or subsidizing e-bike penetration in cities. While this argument seems seductive, it greatly sells short the benefits of exporting LNG and ignores its moral component. And that world is refusing to stand still. Economies are developing, energy consumption is zooming and pollution is worsening in many countries.

Canada can help.

The moral obligation of melancholic people

That help can have a moral dimension — but it must go beyond mere moralizing. It has to work. Canada must look beyond its borders and build for LNG export. While global energy transition is coming, that transition will take many decades. It needs to begin with the displacement of coal, which today fulfills approximately 27 percent of global energy demand. That ratio has barely moved in four decades, during which time overall energy consumption has risen dramatically. The now decade-long denial of resource projects in Canada is turning away much-needed investment capital in our country at a time when the world needs all the energy molecules it can find.

339. How Do We Best Explain Moral Obligation?

A recent study showed that annual foreign investment in Canada has declined by 55 percent since and shows no sign of an upturn. Our reluctance to develop and export our energy reduces the near-term alternatives to coal development.

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The opportunity cost for Canada is also enormous as we willfully restrict ourselves to just one foreign purchaser of our natural gas. Future generations indeed depend on it. Steve Larke, CFA, is a former top-ranked energy equity analyst who has been writing about Canadian and global energy trends for institutional clients for over 20 years.

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