Environmental Defence Canada Executive Director Tim Gray at a recent panel in Edmonton (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Research published this morning by Environmental Defence Canada concludes adoption of the powerful Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers lobby group’s election wish list would increase Canadian greenhouse gas emissions by 116 million tonnes of CO² by 2030.

“In that scenario, Canada’s oil and gas sector would be emitting 311 million tonnes, making emissions from that one industry representing one-fourteenth of the Canadian economy greater than the emissions of 170 countries in the world,” the report stated.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

This goes to the respected Toronto-based environmental group’s assertion well-funded fossil fuel industry lobbying is the single biggest barrier to effective climate action being taken by Canada.

“Oil and gas companies haven’t just played an outsized role in emitting GHGs and accelerating climate change,” said the report, which was put together for Environmental Defence Canada by the EnviroEconomics research organization. “Their lobbying efforts have also contributed to weakening existing environmental policies and killing or delaying proposed climate policies.”

The report noted that academic research shows corporate fossil fuel lobbyists met with Canadian government officials about 11,000 times between 2011 and 2017. That’s eleven thousand times — not a typo.

Fossil fuel industry lobbying sought to weaken or kill six important areas of environmental protection, the report said: environmental assessment rules, water protection, carbon-pricing policies, methane controls, impact assessment, and clean fuel standards.

The report also accuses some of Canada’s major fossil fuel companies of using subsidiaries in foreign tax havens to avoid taxes, although the researchers said they were unable to estimate the amount of money that may have been squirrelled away abroad.

If CAPP’s wish list were granted after the Oct. 21 federal election , Environmental Defence Canada said, GHG emissions from the oil and gas sector “would use 60 per cent of Canada’s 2030 carbon budget under the Paris Agreement.” It noted that the sector, despite its power and influence, represents 7 per cent of Canada’s gross domestic product and 1.3 per cent of Canada’s employment.

The report also noted that between 2000 and 2018, while oil production in Canada has increased by 80 per cent, royalties paid by the sector have plummeted by 63 per cent and the corporate taxes it pays have fallen by more than half.

Former Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

“Canadians should demand that federal party leaders explicitly reject the dangerous agenda being pushed by the oil and gas lobby,” said Environmental Defence Executive Director Tim Gray in a statement accompanying the report. Mr. Gray is a former executive director of the Ontario chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and has a reputation for being a stickler for accuracy in research.

It will be interesting to see how both CAPP and Alberta’s United Conservative Party Government’s “War Room” react to this criticism from a credible organization.

The belligerent tactics adopted by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, and the implication his government will hound opponents of the oil industry through lawsuits, inquiries, Trumpian Twitter storms and other techniques to suppress their free expression rights suggests the credibility of the industry with the Canadian public is waning, not the opposite.

Nevertheless, it isn’t exactly news that that CAPP and other corporate fossil fuel lobby groups continue to wield a lot of influence over policy makers and have essentially, as former Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft argued in his 2017 bestseller Oil’s Deep State, “captured” the government of Alberta regardless of which party is in power at any time.

Ontario Superior Court Justice Edward Morgan (Photo: Justice Edward Morgan).

A swath of Alberta’s important democratic institutions have been captured by the oil industry,” Dr. Taft wrote in a guest post on this blog two years ago. “I spent 11 years in the Legislature and all the major political parties — sometimes even the PCs — asked tough questions about royalties, the environment, and reclamation. Now there is barely a murmur, not because these issues have been solved but because political parties have become instruments of the industry.”

Toward the end of former prime minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative federal government, which hoped to transform Canada into an “energy superpower” despite growing concern about global warming, Environmental Defence Canada’s charitable status was attacked by the Canada Revenue Agency for opposing the government’s pipeline policies.

Before moving from Ottawa to Alberta, Mr. Kenney was a senior minister in Mr. Harper’s cabinet and a trusted lieutenant of the prime minister.

The audit of Environmental Defence Canada by the CRA, which had been thoroughly politicized by the Conservative Government, was based on a complaint by EthicalOil.org, the pro-oilsands pressure group founded by Ezra Levant that has many informal links to both the Conservative Party and the fossil fuel industry.

Environmental Defence Canada never lost its charitable status, however. In December 2018, the Liberal Government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau introduced new legislation dealing with charitable status and political activity. Under the new law, charities were permitted to devote unlimited resources to public policy dialogue and non-partisan activities for the purpose of furthering their charitable mandates.

Conservative Party and UCP supporters and oil industry boosters have conspiracy theories to explain this policy decision. However, a simpler and more likely explanation is the implications of the ruling by the Ontario Superior Court the previous July that the CRA’s audits of political activity by charities infringed on Canadians’ constitutional right to free expression.

About 60 charities were targetted by the CRA before Justice Edward Morgan’s decision effectively ended the practice. The federal government dropped an appeal of the ruling in February 2019.

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  1. Amidst all the fooferaw from the UCP about so-called “foreign-funded special interests” attacking our fossil fuel industry for nefarious purposes, such as — this is a whopper — constraining Alberta oil & gas to limit market competition to American oil & gas, have a read through this article in The Smithsonian: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/meet-the-money-behind-the-climate-denial-movement-180948204/

    The size & scope of American conservatives’ efforts to buy FUD (fear, uncertainty & doubt) about the need to deal effectively with anthropogenic climate change is breathtaking, and also dwarfs anything that might be coming from the environmental movement.

  2. 11,000 times! OMG!

    Ok, maybe it’s time governments start charging fees. You want to meet with a Minister or whatever. You gotta plop down $10,000. Apparently that’s the going rate the Globe and Mail is charging now for a session with it’s editorial board and assorted bureau chiefs.

    Of course, these fees would be added to the National Treasury. Let’s see, 11,000 x 10,000 = a lot of solar power technology.

  3. Some of the biggest oil and gas companies are embroiled in legal disputes with cities, states and children over the industry’s role in climate change. (SEE LINK BELOW)

    Like their market-fundamentalist big pharma business colleagues, oil and gas producers are facing major lawsuits — now working their way through U.S. courts — over climate change and the disruption caused by fossil fuels. Recent court judgements and settlements against opioid producers should be cause for concern for O & G producers. If cases succeed against the O & G industry, what happens to those conservative conspiracy theorists, along with their messaging and war room strategies, that champion false narratives denying environmental degradation caused by anthropogenic greenhouse gases? Care to wager a guess?


  4. “CAPP and other corporate fossil fuel lobby groups continue to wield a lot of influence over policy makers and have essentially, as former Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft argued in his 2017 bestseller Oil’s Deep State, ‘captured’ the government of Alberta regardless of which party is in power at any time.”

    The oil & gas industry has certainly captured NDP leader Rachel Notley.
    “Rachel Notley not sure she’ll vote NDP in federal election”
    “Alberta’s former NDP premier says she hasn’t committed to voting NDP in the upcoming federal election.”

    Notley’s public repudiation of federal NDP leadership and climate/energy policy cannot sit well with national party members. What do long-time NDP supporters make of this?
    If Notley’s vote depends on pipelines, whom will she vote for? Not the NDP or Greens, obviously. Notley also staunchly opposes the Liberal’s tanker ban (Bill C-48) and environmental review legislation (Bill C-69).
    Perhaps Notley would feel more at home in Andrew Scheer’s party. The Conservatives can’t get enough pipelines.
    Who else can she vote for? Maxime Bernier People’s Party?
    Will AB NDP supporters ever wake up and realize Notley has led them down the garden path?

  5. Very good article as usual. Detailed and thorough.

    Kenney is beyond redemption. Perhaps sending a copy to Ms Notley’s aerie in the clouds would help enlighten her. One could but hope. I fear she is an obstinate person, however.

    As things stand, only the federal NDP and the Greens seem to have any clue on the Environment. Trudeau claims he’s an environmentalist, but we know he suffers from cognitive dissonance on this dilbit issue in much the same vein as does Notley. I object strongly to the ruination of my country for the benefit of corporate bottom lines of both Canadian and foreign companies and the glorification of Jason Kenney, and for no other reason.

    Perhaps if Alberta made an absolute mint on the tarsands and shared the wealth I could become blind to its dangers by being bribed to look the other way. As it stands, selling third rate quality dilbit as “oil” commands low prices, virtually no royalties and a heaping helping of pollution, both in the air and tailing ponds. I’m fed up to kowtowing to Alberta. 100 million tonnes of CO2 was supposed to be their cap, but greed now demands a further 116 million by 2030. These petro people need a comeuppance, and soon.

  6. As I said earlier, the conservatives in Canada, federally and provincially, have nothing for citizens. They are entirely shills and mouthpieces for corporations and only see citizens, if at all, as malleable dupes to support and fund their duplicitousness.

    Much can, and should, be said about the Liberals and the Greens, and the NDP but at least they are honestly focused on the welfare of people. They all can do better and should not stumble and fumble around as much or at all.
    But the conservatives are another type altogether; they are ignorant and short-sighted, mean and vicious and will cause harm to you and everything you hold dear.

  7. So the oil producers want to produce more oil, go figure… our politicians are bought and paid for, another surprise.
    Even if you are not entirely convinced of man made global warming, global cooling, climate change, or whatever the latest call to action seems to be you should be concerned about the water pollution issue. 99.7 percent of lakes and 99.9 percent of rivers are excluded from federal oversight! Begs the question what does fall under federal oversight then? Don’t think Trudeau touched that one, correct me if I am wrong. Water is pretty bloody important.

  8. “It will be interesting to see how both CAPP and Alberta’s United Conservative Party Government’s ‘War Room’ react to this criticism from a credible organization.”

    The report has been ignored by the media, except for you and the National Observer, so any reaction would draw more attention to it.

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