This article points out that, unlike in other areas of the economy, lost energy jobs are not likely to return as the result of “a structural change in global energy”. It goes on to explain how the job losses can be accommodated over time.

Getting Started

Introduction to the article (perhaps by having everyone read it)

One of the first actions taken by President Joe Biden was to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline project. This caused great consternation in Canada and a demand from some premiers for retribution against the Americans. The federal Liberal government is supportive of the completion of this pipeline even though it has taken great action to address climate change and limit carbon emissions. This, therefore, appears to be a contradiction in positions. There is a realization on the part of the federal government that the future lies in clean, renewable energy and the necessity to reduce and even eliminate our reliance on fossil fuels. Why then, the desire for completion of the pipeline? This is the issue that the students will be asked to address through a role-play activity.

Subject Area(s) covered

Environmental studies, business education, world issues, economics

New Terms to explain

Renewable hydrogen

Materials Needed

Access to the article and the Internet

Study and Discussion Activity

Key things students can learn from this lesson

  • The future of the fossil fuel industry is limited and it will ultimately be replaced by alternative renewable energy supplies.
  • The loss associated with this development will be offset by retirements, career changes and retraining over the considerable time it will take to replace fossil fuel sources.
  • Clean, renewable energy is a key to the future.

Action (here’s how we’ll do it)

  • Begin the lesson by informing the students that the focus is going to be on the federal government’s apparently contradictory position between the desire for the completion of the Keystone XL pipeline and its commitment to addressing climate change.
  • Indicate to them that there is constant tension between the fossil fuel industry and those who seek alternative, renewable energy to replace fossil fuels.
  • Direct the students to the article and allow them time to read it.
  • Hold a brief online plenary session to get their reactions to what they have just read.
  • Point out to them that one of the first actions taken by the newly elected president of the United States, Joe Biden, was to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline project and that the Canadian response to that was great dismay and a demand from some Premiers for sanctions against the Americans.
  • Indicate to the students that their task is going to be to examine the clash between our continued reliance on fossil fuels, as encouraged by the completion of the pipeline, and our desire to replace fossil fuels with clean, renewable sources of energy.
  • Explain that they are going to do this examination through a role play activity.
  • Assign the following task:

You are a young and up and coming journalist who has been presented with a career-enhancing opportunity. You are going to interview the Prime Minister during a prime time, national network interview. The entire nation will be watching to see where the government stands on the fossil fuel versus climate change debate. You will have three questions that you may pose to the Prime Minister. You are to carefully research this whole question of fossil fuel vs clean energy and develop those three questions that you would ask.

Your future as a journalist rests in the balance. In preparation for the interview, you are not only to develop the three questions but also prepare what you believe the answers will be in order to be well-informed on the topic.

  • Allow the students time to complete this task independently and prepare for presentation to the class for reaction.

Consolidation of Learning

  • The students will present their questions and a summary of the answers to the class for reaction and discussion.
Success and Additional Learning

Success Criteria

  • The students will appreciate how the future of fossils fuels is severely limited.
  • They will demonstrate a knowledge of the federal government’s position on the need to develop new clean, renewable energy supplies.
  • The students will understand why, even though it has acknowledged the need for alternative energy, the federal government still supports the development of pipeline projects.

Confirming Activities

  • The students can complete a short writing assignment to be submitted indicating whether or not they are in support of the completion of the pipeline projects.

Helpful Internet Searches

Activities to do together

  • The students can explore what efforts the federal government is making to develop alternative energy supplies.
  • The students can research what initiatives the federal government is taking to help address the loss of jobs in the fossil fuel sector.
  • The students can compare the different stances the provinces are taking on the development of the pipeline projects and proposals.