Environmental Defence is blocking real action on climate change

Blog post

With its most recent report attacking Canada’s oil and natural gas industry, Environmental Defence Canada is using the fringe activist playbook by combining biased opinion and manipulated data and dressing it all up as a research report.

Environment Defence is another one of the foreign-funded activist groups operating in Canada, having accepted nearly $3 million in funding from American foundations to oppose Canada’s oil and natural gas industry. It is also a founding member of the original ‘Tar Sands’ campaign which sought to land-lock Canada’s resources.

In its new report, Environmental Defence is actually attacking the largest and most effective solution to lowering global greenhouse gas emissions -- a solution that Canada can implement.

First, the report’s per barrel emissions data draws a straight line from 1990 to 2018, starting from a point before Canada had even commercialized its leading in situ oil sands extraction technology. More accurate information on oil sands emissions comes from IHS Markit which reported greenhouse gas intensity from oil sands extraction has fallen 21 percent since 2009 with further opportunity to drop an additional 16 to 23 percent by 2030.

Second, Environmental Defence opposes the exporting of Canada’s Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to markets like China and India to offset coal. Opposition to this industry in the name of fighting climate change makes no sense when you consider a single Canadian LNG export facility that offsets coal in other nations would result in a 100 megatonne reduction in global GHG emissions. To put that in perspective, this is more than taking every single passenger car off the road in Canada, every year.

Furthermore, the best way Canada can meet its Paris commitments is through the ratification of Article 6 of the Paris agreement. Through this agreement Canada could enable other nations to reduce their GHG emissions and share the reductions credit. While Canada only makes up 1.5 percent of total global emissions, using our responsibly produced LNG can make a real contribution to fighting climate change by helping other nations reduce coal consumption.

The Environmental Defence report exposes its hypocrisy in another way, and that is in regards to lobbying the government. The number of meetings it claims the oil and natural gas industry had with government over the past decade would equate to having four meetings with government every day. If this sounds impossible, it is.

In reality, Environmental Defence Canada and other foreign funded activists groups have lobbied the Federal government about four times as much as CAPP in the last six months., The Strathemere Group, a coalition of 14 of Canada’s leading environmental organizations including Environmental Defence Canada, has logged 3,229 communication reports in the federal lobbyist registry, with 168 over the last six months. In contrast, in the same period CAPP registered 40 reports. This is during a time where we saw the passing of both Bill C-69 and Bill C-48, two bills widely opposed by many industries and Indigenous leaders across Canada but supported by environmental activist groups.

When the Environmental Defence report criticizes the regulatory system in Canada it is taking swipes at the most stringent oil and natural gas regulations on the planet. Canada has the strictest carbon pricing of all major oil and natural gas exporting nations. We are the only nation in the world with mandatory methane reduction targets and the only one to have an emission limit on a resource extraction sector.

Blocking oil and natural gas from the world leader in environmental regulation of oil and natural gas is not acting responsibly on climate change, especially when every credible energy outlook projects oil and natural gas consumption will grow for the next two decades and beyond. Groups like Environmental Defence would rather see the benefits of resource development go to nations like Saudi Arabia, Iran and Venezuela, who do not place the same value as Canada on environmental protection or human rights.

And the benefits for Canada are vast. The Environmental Defence report cites stats related to the oil and natural gas industry’s payments to governments from 2000 to 2018. The numbers they don’t include are that from 2000 to 2018 the oil and natural gas industry contributed a total of $320 billion to municipal, provincial and federal governments. That sum is equal to funding nearly 170,000 teachers across the country every year for the past two decades.

Environmental Defence’s latest report tries to use CAPPs’ Energy Platform for Canada to characterize the oil and natural gas industry as the biggest barrier to Canada meeting its Paris Agreement commitments. In reality, CAPPs’ Energy Platform outlines a plan that would help Canada exceed those commitments by acting globally while making life better for all Canadians.

Canadians at large are increasingly frustrated with these fringe activist group tactics that are preventing a rational conversation about climate change and working against practical climate solutions that reduce global emissions.