A group of 150 CEOs of mostly smaller Canadian fossil companies met in Calgary this month to plot a campaign against climate action and clean energy development, the Financial Post reported late last week.
The group “is in the early stages of coming up with a strategy and building a network of like-minded people across Canada that could include banks, law firms, academia,” the Financial Post’s Claudia Cattaneo reports. “Details are sketchy because participants agreed to keep the discussions at the meeting confidential for now,” fearing “intimidation” from governments if their names become public.
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The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), widely seen as the voice of the country’s larger oil and gas companies, was notable by its absence from the gathering. The decision not to invite CAPP was “a sign of the growing fissure between companies that are supporting governments [to] achieve their climate change aspirations, and those that do not and are worried about the consequences of environmental policy,” Cattaneo writes.
“In Calgary, there are only two kinds of companies,” said meeting convener Michael Binnion, president and CEO of Calgary-based Questerre Energy Corporation. “Those going broke fast or those going broke slow. People are worried and afraid.”
So “why are we only looking at the impacts of oil and gas, compared to the benefits of renewables?” he asked.
While four of the largest tar sands/oil sands companies “cut a deal late last year with Alberta’s NDP government that led to a cap on oilsands emissions for the whole sector,” Cattaneo writes, “in reality many see the policies as suicidal. The angst is deepest among smaller oil and gas companies and service providers struggling to stay alive after 18 months of devastatingly low oil prices and higher taxes.”
Binnion, past chair of the Quebec Oil and Gas Association, pointed to that province’s new hydrocarbon law as an example of what industry lobbying can achieve, describing it as “cautiously pro oil and gas development” in spite of tough opposition from clean energy groups.
“It can work elsewhere, where many decisions are being made that will impact Canadians for decades, such as regulatory approvals of pipelines and liquefied natural gas projects, and where there is a desperate need for a balanced discussion,” the Post suggests.
But “the push has the feel of a last gasp before Canada’s energy economy is damaged for good. The cracks are widening,” prompting one CEO at the meeting to comment that “the industry not only responded too slowly, but responded in a non-constructive way. Its engagement is not what it needed to be.”
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