Should Governments Pick Winners?
One often hears claims that governments "should not pick winners", typically from those opposing any funding to promote EVs. Those who make this claim ignore some very important points:
First, that governments are massively involved already in picking winners: the fossil fuel industry receives trillions in tax breaks and outright handouts, providing mega-incentives to continue producing polluting, climate-damaging oil and gasoline products. Far more than the relatively tiny subsidies given to clean energy and electric car makers, even though between a quarter and a half of all new energy production is in the clean energy sectors.
As well, governements are increasingly asked to "pick up the tab" (and slide it over to the taxpayer sitting at the table, to continue the restaurant metaphor) for cleaning up abandoned oil wells. By contrast, when wind turbines, for example, reach end of life, the parts that can’t be recycled are towed away - usually at the operator’s expense, since they are incented to re-use the site - and disposed of.
And second, that the recently-prosperous Alberta Oil Sands industry is entirely the result of one time that governments did so, funding one oil researcher’s Good Idea that industry refused to invest in because it was "disruptive" and called "alternative energy" (yes, in the 1970’s): https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/oilsands-development-aostra-sara-hastings-simon-1.5372939
This is more general than the oil sands, as noted by Bloomberg.
Of course not every governement investment in any industry works out- ya win some and ya lose some- but this is just as true in the private sector, a point overlooked in this ill-informed FP article.
So let’s not hear about the poor disinfranchised oil industry losing a few shekels to the EV and renewable energy. The double whammy of the COVID-19 panic-demic and the Russia-Saudi War on Americal Oil have beaten the price of a barrel Canadian oil down to around the cost of a (take-out) latte. There is no future for the tar sands at even ten times that. The oil industry should be spending what they have saved away, and what governments give them, on re-tooling and re-training for clean energy.