Oil and Gas Industry in Canada Blocking Climate Change Policies Despite Net-Zero Commitments

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A climate research organization in London has reported that the oil and gas industry in Canada is blocking attempts to strengthen the country’s climate policies. Even though the sector has set up zero-emission goals of its own and is promoting its environmental efficiency.

The study conducted by InfluenceMap looked at corporate reports, ads and social media posts from the six biggest Canadian oil and gas companies – Cenovus Energy Inc., Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., Imperial Oil Ltd. and TC Energy Corp. – plus the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

This analysis showed that the industry “remains strategically opposed to science-based policy to deliver net-zero targets in line with limiting warming to 1.5 degrees C,” despite the sector’s net-zero commitments.

Research showed that the oil and gas sector has been resistant to policies that would reduce carbon emissions. This contradicts the advice from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and International Energy Agency, which have both urged cutting back drastically on fossil fuel consumption in order to meet global climate goals.

Ed Collins, InfluenceMap director, commented that while many industries seek support and growth, the oil and gas industry has a unique problem in that it presents an enormous risk to the planet because of its high contribution to climate change.

“When engagement and attempts to influence policy diverge massively from what the science says is needed to maintain a safe climate, then I think it’s arguably a special case where that really shouldn’t be happening,” said Collins in an interview.

The report emphasizes the involvement of the Pathways Alliance, a coalition of six oilsands producers aiming to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. It states that Pathways focuses on decreasing emissions from oil sands production, while also advocating for the role of Canadian oil in the international energy market and opposing short-term regulations to reduce emissions.

Pathways argues that its advertisement campaign recognizes the oil sands as a major source of Canadian greenhouse gas emissions and the sector must cooperate with governments to meet climate objectives.

Pathways vice-president Mark Cameron said in a statement that the coalition’s level of commitment and collaboration to help support Canada’s climate goals is unprecedented.

“We strongly support the Government of Canada’s net-zero commitments and we are advancing a concrete plan for significant absolute emissions reductions by 2030. We have not opposed an emissions cap – but have emphasized it must have realistic targets and timelines.”

Members of the alliance have committed billions to reduce their emissions, including exploring green innovations, experimenting with solvents to cut down the required steam to extract oil, and looking into small nuclear reactors for power.

The group is also working on a carbon capture initiative whose main focus is a 400-kilometre pipeline designed to transfer CO2 from over 20 oil extraction sites to a storage facility near Cold Lake, Alta. Pathways expect that when completed, it will decrease net emissions by 10-12 million tonnes annually by 2030.

Pathways estimate that by 2030, the $16.5 billion project will eliminate 10–12 million tons of annual net emissions. On Wednesday, the company said that it had granted a $10 million contract to global engineering firm Wood to create comprehensive plans for the pipeline to help them apply for regulatory approval later this year. 

Mr. Collins mentioned that InfluenceMap is attempting to effect changes in the energy sector. He further commented that the report will be used by investors and other interested parties to inspire more decisive action when it comes to cutting down on emissions.

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Written by Olivia Woods

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