A thriving energy sector that incorporates both traditional and renewable resources is a clear path to prosperity, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Thursday in Houston, pointing to the lessons from the failures of past governments, including that of his father, as the foundation for future success.

“No country would find 173 billion barrels of oil and just leave it in the ground,” Trudeau told the CERAWeek by IHS Markit audience in his prepared remarks. “Our job is to ensure this is done responsibly, safely and sustainably.”

Trudeau was the keynote speaker at the conference, where he received the CERAWeek Global Energy and Environment Leadership Award recognizing his efforts to create policies that address both economic and environmental concerns.

The prime minister faces a delicate balancing act, where his efforts to combine environmental concerns with the need to develop and deliver Canada’s rich oil reserves have sparked controversy at home and in the US, particularly with the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. The pipeline, recently approved by US President Donald Trump, reversing the previous Obama administration’s rejection of the project, will carry crude oil from the Canadian province of Alberta through the Rocky Mountains to Texas refineries.

Two other pipeline projects are planned: Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain line from Alberta to the Pacific, and Enbridge’s Line 3 replacement. “These ambitious projects will go a long way towards ensuring North American energy security – for years to come,” Trudeau said.Justin Trudeau

Referencing his father Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s failed energy program‎ of the ’80s, the National Energy Program that introduced a high degree of state control over energy, the younger Trudeau said, “‎there is no path to prosperity in Canada that does not include a thriving, vibrant energy sector — both traditional, and renewable.”

In his speech, the prime minister also showcased Canada’s close energy relationship with the US, saying Canada has the third largest oil reserves in the world while providing more than 40 percent of America’s imported crude, adding: “We supply you with more electricity and uranium than any other country, too.”

He said the strategic ties between the two countries had led to the “most successful economic relationship in the world, supporting millions of middle class jobs on both sides of the border.”

Trudeau, whose good looks and easy manner have made him a media and internet sensation since winning office in 2015, also looked to the future, highlighting the need to preserve the planet’s resources and to excel on innovation.

‎”Innovating — and pursuing renewables — isn’t somehow in competition with more traditional resources,” he said. “It’s common sense.”

 

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