No more excuses for Big Oil

The Province published this Op-Ed by Kate McMahon, organizer with For Our Kids Burnaby:

No more excuses for Big Oil
July 30, 2022


Temperatures are soaring again in B.C. Heat domes and fires ravage Europe, most of Asia and the U.S. At the same time, damning evidence is revealed that the oil-and-gas sector has been knowingly profiting off the destructive emissions to the tune of $3 billion a day. This would seem an odd time for our Minister of the Environment Stephen Guilbeault, a former director at Greenpeace, to jump to the defence of the oil-and-gas industry in Canada. But that is exactly what he did earlier this week, suggesting that Canada may not make its 2030 targets because Big Oil needs more time and more money.

These are the same companies that have long known the damage they were causing to the safety, security and livability of this planet, today and in the future. These are the same companies that have been making billions in pure profit for the last 50 years. After all this time and all this profit, the government and all Canadians — who are already feeling the climate effects of their actions — can’t swallow that they need more time and more money. Money is the thing they do have, and time is the one thing we don’t.

Their commitments are a fraction of what Canada needs to meet our 2030 emissions targets, and they are still counting on untested carbon-capture technology to get there. How will we make up the difference if they don’t meet their targets? Which industry will pick up the slack for Big Oil — which accounted for 26 per cent of national emissions in 2019 — not doing its fair share? Guilbeault was short of details on that part of the plan.

The government is letting Big Oil off the hook. They are not being held accountable. Big Oil says they need more time and money to develop technologies to capture emissions, so they want to continue business as usual. But is this what we want? To be beholden to giant corporations that make absurd profits, receive billions in subsidies and yet still cry poverty when asked to take responsibility for their own actions? This seems to be what Guilbeault is suggesting.

Instead of pleading Big Oil’s case to continue producing and emitting, the federal government should be working to reduce demand for fossil fuels. Where is the massive transportation overhaul? Rapid trains to replace short-haul flights? Building and retrofitting mandates and regulations? Where is the deep investment in renewable energy, infrastructure and manufacturing and people? Where are the programs, subsidies and training for oil-and-gas workers transitioning into jobs that will support their families without destroying the future for their children as well?

The solutions are here. It is the political will we seem to be missing. And while Stephen Guilbeault plays softball with the oil-and-gas industry, time is ticking.

Kate McMahon is a member of For Our Kids (Burnaby), a parent/caregiver-led organization working to ensure a livable planet.

Latest posts

We banned tobacco ads; why not those for fossil fuels?

Such a move would send a clear message that we are seeking a new normal for the sake of the planet’s health and for our kids.

This month, NDP MP Charlie Angus introduced Bill C-372, “An Act respecting fossil fuel advertising” in the House of Commons. This was modelled on the act targeting tobacco advertisements. Reaction was swift and extreme with overblown claims that ordinary citizens would be jailed for sharing positive opinions about oil and gas. Hopefully, common sense will prevail.