Documents show B.C. ‘Climate Leadership Plan’ was cooked up in Calgary boardroom of powerful petroleum industry lobby

Posted on September 18, 2017, 8:02 am
9 mins

PHOTOS: British Columbia’s beautiful Legislature Building in Victoria – not, as it turns out, where the province’s climate policy is set! Below: CCPA-BC’s Shannon Daub, former B.C. Liberal premier Christy Clark (Photo: Wikimedia Commons), B.C. NDP Premier John Horgan, and environmentalist Tzeporah Berman.

Using documents obtained through a Freedom of Information filing, the British Columbia office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has discovered B.C.’s former Liberal Government’s “Climate Leadership Plan” was almost entirely cooked up at secret meetings with oil and gas industry representatives in the Calgary boardroom of the country’s most powerful fossil fuel industry lobby group.

The covert meetings in the Calgary offices of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers in early 2016 were attended by senior B.C. Government officials and what CCPA-BC described as “a who’s who of the country’s largest oil and gas corporations,” the documents reveal.

That industry, as is well known, was among the biggest financial contributors to the conservative-leaning “Liberal” government of former B.C. premier Christy Clark under that province’s Wild West election financing laws.

And this was no mere “consultation,” discovered the researchers for the CCPA’s Corporate Mapping Project, who are studying how the power of the fossil fuel industry influences Canadian governments.

“The documents we obtained reveal that the government spent three months working hand-in-hand with the oil and gas industry” to revise and rewrite recommendations of the Climate Leadership Team set up by Ms. Clark’s government as the public face of the province’s climate policy development process, said CCPA-BC Associate Director Shannon Daub.

The B.C. Climate Leadership Team, which turns out to have been nothing more than window dressing, included representatives of First Nations, environmental groups, municipalities and academics, in addition to industry. Meanwhile, the insiders at the boardroom table in Alberta actually drafted B.C.’s 2016 climate policy, almost entirely ignoring the 17-member team’s recommendations in the process.

“It’s a stunning misuse of the public’s trust,” said Ms. Daub, who was also co-author of the report on the FOI discoveries that was released at 5 a.m. Pacific time today.

So let’s just pause there for a moment. Do you recall when the entire political right in Alberta went wild because a prominent Vancouver-based environmentalist had been included as a member of our provincial government’s Oil Sands Advisory Group?

Brian Jean and Jason Kenney, now leading candidates to lead to the so-called United Conservative Party, repeatedly pilloried Tzeporah Berman. She had to flee an attacker at Edmonton International Airport. The right accused Premier Rachel Notley’s NDP government of everything but treason – and maybe that too.

So it’s amusing to imagine how they would have reacted if Alberta’s NDP government had drafted its entire plan for the future of the Alberta Bitumen Sands in the Vancouver offices of a major environmental group – say, Greenpeace – consulting only environmentalists like Ms. Berman!

Apocalypse Now?

It will be interesting to see how voters in B.C., which is now governed by an informal coalition of the New Democratic Party and the B.C. Green Party, react to this morning’s revelations.

As an aside, it wouldn’t be at all surprising if some of Alberta’s right-wing political players were aware at the time of the fact B.C.’s Climate Leadership Plan was being cobbled together in the heart of the Alberta Oilpatch by representatives from ARC Resources Ltd., the B.C. LNG Alliance, Canbriam Energy Inc., Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., Chevron Canada, ConocoPhillips Canada, Encana Inc., Imperial Oil Resources, Chinese-owned Nexen/CNOOC, Malaysian-owned Progress Energy, Shell Canada, Suncor Energy Services Inc., Teck Resources, CAPP and a few others.

“The process constituted an invitation to the country’s most powerful oil and gas companies to shape both the substance and language of B.C.’s next climate plan,” the report by Ms. Daub and co-author Zoe Yunker concluded, based on their analysis of the FOI results.

“In sum,” says this morning’s report, “the B.C. government carried out secret meetings, in another province, with an industry that is a top contributor to the B.C. Liberal Party, in order to shape policy that ought to constrain that very industry – as any meaningful climate policy must do in relation to the fossil fuel sector.”

Ironically, under the current B.C. Lobbyist Registration Act, none of the Calgary meetings count as lobbying because they took place at the invitation of the Clark Government. “No other sector … could dream of this kind of access,” said the CCPA report.

“This is more than a case of ideological alignment between a corporate-friendly party and its corporate donors,” Ms. Daub and Ms. Yunker wrote. “It is a profound blurring of the lines between government and industry, who set out to make policy together behind closed doors, while what can only now be characterized as a pretend consultation was acted out publicly.”

The charade was a waste of the Climate Leadership Team’s time and B.C. taxpayers’ money, and amounts to “institutional corruption,” the researchers argue.

The B.C. Climate Leadership Team was appointed by the Clark Government in March 2015 and its final Climate Leadership Plan was supposed to be released a year later.

The team released recommendations that fall, disappointing some but containing good ideas and letting Ms. Clark and other B.C. officials jet off to Paris to bask in the public’s approval at the UN climate talks.

In January 2016, “sector-specific industry consultations” were announced. In March, instead of releasing the plan as promised, the government extended its public consultation period, claiming a high level of public participation needed to be accommodated.

The Clark Government was silent until August 2016, when it announced its climate plan – which “failed to wholly adopt a single one of the CLT’s 32 recommendations.”

Now we know why.

In May 2017, the B.C. provincial election ended in a virtual tie, with Ms. Clark and her Liberals appearing to hang onto power by the fingernails. The Green Party held the balance of power in the Legislature in Victoria with three seats.

In late June, the government fell on a motion of confidence and the Lieutenant Governor asked the NDP led by John Horgan to form a government.

The NDP and their Green partners are now about to reform the province’s election financing laws.

The Corporate Mapping Project is a six-year research initiative jointly run by the University of Victoria, CCPA’s B.C. and Saskatchewan branches, and the University of Alberta’s Parkland Institute. It is financed by a $2.5-million grant awarded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, plus $2 million in matching funds from partner organizations.

15 Comments to: Documents show B.C. ‘Climate Leadership Plan’ was cooked up in Calgary boardroom of powerful petroleum industry lobby

    • Sam Gunsch

      September 18th, 2017

      Yes. Very interesting indeed.
      …domination of BC climate policy by the petro-oligarchy is more evidence for Kevin Taft’s argument, that the petro-industry amounts to Canada’s ‘deep state’ in collusion with any and all gov’ts, willing or not. Book launch and description here:

      excerpt: ‘In his new book, Oil’s Deep State: How the petroleum industry undermines democracy and stops action on global warming – in Alberta, and in Ottawa, Kevin Taft argues the real reason is that the oil industry has captured key democratic institutions in both Alberta and Ottawa.’

    • Sam Gunsch

      September 18th, 2017

      FWIW I’ve some personal experience of the arrogance of the petro-industry’s political capture of AB’s RW/conservative gov’ts and recently, to a large degree, the centrist NDP… so…in about ’97 or ’98, when I was a rep. on the Provincial Coordinating Committee of Klein’s Special Places new parks process, the CAPP lobbyist told me to my face that we environmental representatives should stop complaining and be grateful to the petroleum industry, that they even allowed the Klein gov’t to proceed with the 1990s Special Places policy to create new parks and wilderness areas, adding an additional 3% max. of the AB landbase for protection from industrial extractive industry; that we should actually quit complaining of the policy’s ridiculous ecological limitations, because the petroleum industry didn’t even have to permit it to happen in the first place, implying we should accept their gifting back to the public, of the public’s wildlands on public land. Kind of like he expected a kiss on his ring finger from the bended knee position.

      And what has the petro-capture left us… 50+ billions of dollars in liabilities for the public purse in abandoned leaking wells and tailings ponds (more than we’ve collected in royalties) that appear to be unreclaimable and species going extinct, like caribou, just as non-industry scientists and environmental NGOs and forecast starting back in the late 1980s… petro-capture of democracy? screwing over the citizenry/taxpayers … pretty much.

  1. BenD

    September 18th, 2017

    Are you going to make the documents available?

  2. Morris Bates

    September 18th, 2017

    First Nations Posts??

  3. political ranger

    September 18th, 2017

    I’m not particularly surprised. This is exactly what thoughtful progressives in BC, and elsewhere, have suspected for quite awhile now. We are seeing all over the world conservative and other regressive governments just giving up on truth, honesty and any kind of fair debate or exchange of ideas on the best way to deliver democracy.
    It’s clear that Conservatives in Canada, have no doubt that this is what the Clark Liberals are despite their “fake” name, and Republicans in the States exist to promote and defend the rights of corporations and the rich.

    • Ingamarie

      September 18th, 2017

      Even if that means taking us over the climate cliff….but let’s not over react. We’d hate to be on their ‘no fly’ list, now wouldn’t we|

  4. MullyB

    September 18th, 2017

    It’s sad but not surprising that this story will never make it into the mainstream media nationally or here in BC . Postmedia’s partnerships with CAPP to control the narrative around fossil fuels are just one example of efforts to keep the majority on citizens ignorant of how things really work . ( not in the interest of the general public or future generations )

  5. Bill

    September 19th, 2017

    Kinda like having the Hells Angels secretly reformulating our legal system and rewriting our criminal laws… what could go wrong?

    No doubt the Christy Pirate Liberals and her beat cop/ energy Czar ‘boss’ Colman saw this as a good move what with the cover of the shiny BC Climate Leadership Team parading to Paris.


  6. political ranger

    September 19th, 2017

    Here’s how it works today …
    Yesterday, on the drive home, some fella phoned into the “traffic report” that there was uncontrolled gas flaring at some plant on the SW edge of town.
    The traffic reporter checked it out and came back with an assurance from the petro-corp that this is a regular and normal flare and nothing to worry about.
    And that was the end of it.

  7. September 19th, 2017

    Maybe Christy Clark should be running in the UCP leadership race, if I may be so bold to suggest.


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