Two new polls suggest that a majority of Albertans and Canadians support the implementation of a national cap on carbon emissions from the oil and gas sector. This comes at a time when major companies such as Suncor, Shell, and BP are doubling down on oil sands production and slowing down their clean energy efforts.
The actions of these companies, driven by the pursuit of profit, are shameful. They prioritize shareholder dividends and executive compensation over investments in the clean energy transition. Moreover, they have the audacity to demand more subsidies from Canadian taxpayers for their carbon capture projects, contradicting the principle that polluters should be responsible for the damage they cause.
It’s clear that the oil and gas sector cannot be trusted to prioritize the global goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, as outlined in the Paris Agreement. To achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, global emissions must be reduced by half by 2030. This requires immediate and ambitious efforts to reduce emissions and scale up clean-energy investments.
Last year, the United Nations released a report, “Integrity Matters,” which established clear criteria for net-zero commitments. Companies or regions setting such targets must not continue to invest in new fossil fuel supply, buy carbon credits to defer real emissions reductions, or privately lobby against climate action. Progress on net-zero commitments should be publicly reported and independently verified.
Unfortunately, many oil and gas producers, including some members of the Pathways Alliance, a trade association being investigated for misleading advertising, are not meeting these standards. They are continuing to approve new extraction projects and lobby against a federal cap on emissions.
To make matters worse, Canada is projected to become the world’s second-largest developer of new oil and gas extraction, with associated emissions comparable to those of 117 new coal-fired power plants. This is detrimental to both the climate and the economy.
The time for action is now. Canada’s oil and gas sector has the potential to be part of the solution to the climate crisis by becoming a leader in clean energy and creating good jobs. However, if they continue on their current path, they will only exacerbate the climate crisis and hinder progress towards a sustainable future.
It’s clear that a hard cap on emissions from Canada’s oil and gas industry is necessary. Talk is cheap, and it’s time for real action to ensure that emissions are reduced and the industry is held accountable for its contribution to the climate crisis.
– Catherine McKenna, former federal minister of environment and climate change
– The Canadian Press