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Fossils Want $50-Billion Taxpayer Subsidy to Decarbonize Tar Sands/Oil Sands

Two of Canada’s biggest fossil companies say they’ll by looking for about C$50 billion in taxpayer subsidies to bring their net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050.

Suncor Energy and Cenovus Energy are two of five companies that formed an Oil Sands Pathway to Net Zero alliance last month, touting a shaky plan to cut their emissions while increasing their oil production. Cenovus unveiled an “aspirational” net-zero by 2050 target in January 2020, and Suncor followed suit a net-zero target in late May.

Now, they’re saying they want to make it happen with other people’s money.

“We haven’t been able to find any jurisdiction in the world where carbon capture has been implemented, where the national government or the state governments are not very significant partners in that investment,” Cenovus CEO Alex Pourbaix told Bloomberg. “I don’t think any of us would ever be in a position to go at this on our own. It’s just too significant an undertaking.”

The overall plan will cost C$75 billion, the news agency reports, citing an interview with Pourbaix and Suncor CEO Mark Little. “About half of the emission cuts would need to come from capturing carbon at oil sands sites and sequestering it deep underground, which may require as much as two-thirds government capital like in Norway,” Bloomberg writes, citing Little. “It’s still unclear how and when most of the projects will be implemented, or which agreements will be needed, but it’s clear the industry doesn’t want to do it alone.”

A spokesperson for Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan, Jr. declined to comment on whether the government would seriously consider the fossil CEOs’ request.

Citing Pourbaix, Bloomberg says the fossils’ emissions reduction plan “will include measures like switching the fuels used at oil sands operations. Cenovus and the other companies are also developing ways to use solvents like propane to help separate the oil from the sand more efficiently and pump more crude with lower steam requirements. Later on, the industry might employ small nuclear reactors to make steam.”

But the plan certainly doesn’t call for a reduction or phaseout in tar sands/oil sands production. And it “doesn’t include so-called Scope 3 emissions, the ones generated by cars, aircraft, homes and factories when the fossil fuels produced in the oil sands are burned by the end consumers,” Bloomberg writes.

Which means all of that subsidized investment would apply to the emissions Canadian fossil companies generate in the process of extracting their raw product. More than 80% of the emissions in a barrel of oil enter the atmosphere when an end user receives the final product and uses it as directed.

6 Comments (Open | Close)

6 Comments To "Fossils Want $50-Billion Taxpayer Subsidy to Decarbonize Tar Sands/Oil Sands"

#1 Comment By Herb Wiseman On July 12, 2021 @ 12:30 PM

Taxpayers do NOT fund federal spending. That is economic mythology that promotes the Conservative Parties’ continued weaponizing of the debt, deficit and balanced budgets. You are — likely inadvertently — maintaining a climate equilibrium or frame of growing carbonization and even reinforcing the mythology that fossil fuels are needed for economic growth.

If you want to understand how to combat climate crises, then it is equally important to stop supporting language and policies that are likely to make things worse and certainly will not help.

If you do not understand what I am talking about Read two books. One — Thinking in Systems — by Donella Meadows co-author of Limits to Growth and the other is The Deficit Myth by Stephanie Kelton.

#2 Comment By Dave Abbey On July 12, 2021 @ 6:06 PM

ANY public subsidies should be directed to decarbonizing our Economy.

#3 Comment By Earl Richards On July 17, 2021 @ 5:37 PM

Stop Alberta Big Oil from looting the taxpayer.

#4 Comment By Bob Landell On July 17, 2021 @ 7:31 PM

Recent discovery that BC methane leaks are double the official estimate makes Centre for Innovation & Clean Energy “mindustry” goal of developing blue hydrogen and CCUS more questionable.

https://www.focusonvictoria.ca/issue-analysis/55/

#5 Comment By Frank Sterle Jr. On July 18, 2021 @ 6:19 PM

Why am I not flabbergasted? Because such ethically (if not also morally) challenged conduct by our elected officials and the industry has become the norm! …

Regardless of which political party is at the helm, our provincial and federal governments consistently prop the already profitable fossil fuel industry. In 2019, Canada’s Liberal government gave the fossil fuel sector 12-fold the subsidization it allocated towards renewable energy innovation. Actually, such lopsided bad-cause subsidization greatly favoring Big Fossil Fuel occurs every budget year, more or less. This is on top of agreeing to triple the diluted bitumen pipeline-flow westward through B.C., which means increasing the oil freighter traffic seven-fold through pristine whale-bearing waters.

‘Liberals’ and ‘conservatives’ are overly preoccupied with vociferously criticizing one another for their politics and beliefs thus diverting attention/criticism away from the planet’s greatest polluters, where it should and needs to be sharply focused. Then again, even our mainstream print news-media, like our governments, support Canada’s fossil fuel industry. Postmedia is on record as being formally allied with not only the planet’s second most polluting forms of “energy” (i.e. fossil fuel), but also the most polluting/dirtiest of crude oils — bitumen.
[Source: “Mair on Media’s ‘Unholiest of Alliances’ With Energy Industry”, Rafe Mair, Nov.14 2017, TheTyee.ca https://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2017/11/14/mair-media-unholiest-alliances%5D
For me, most pressing is: should the promotion of massive fossil fuel extraction, even Canada’s own, be a partisan position for any newspaper giant to take, especially considering its immense role in global warming thus climate change? And, at least in this case, whatever happened to the honorable journalistic role of ‘afflicting the comfortable’ (which went along with ‘comforting the afflicted’), especially one of such environmental monstrosity?

#6 Comment By Mitchell Beer On July 18, 2021 @ 11:18 PM

Frank, I have to thank you for resurrecting that old and still important quote about news reporting that “afflicts the comfortable and comforts the afflicted”. Some of us can look back to a time when the principle, if not always the practice, was standard fare in journalism school. I really hope it still is.