If you want to know what someone really thinks, watch what they do rather than what they say.
That’s especially true when they have a multimillion-dollar marketing budget at their disposal, like Suncor Energy. That’s why for all its good talk about reaching net-zero emissions, Suncor’s decision to hire Rich Kruger, the retired ex-CEO of Imperial Oil, as its new CEO speaks so loudly. After all, if you’re trying to build a forward-looking energy company of the future, you don’t usually pull someone from the industry’s past off the golf course to do it.
Kruger is the outspoken former CEO of Imperial Oil, the Canadian subsidiary of ExxonMobil. That’s a company with a long and detailed history of denying climate change and then, when that no longer worked, slow-walking efforts to address it. After heavily advertising an algae-based biofuel program for more than a decade as its contribution to addressing the climate crisis, ExxonMobil quietly walked away from it late last year.
If you happen to work in sustainable development for Suncor, you might want to update your resume — or at the very least prepare for a change in your job description.
Suncor’s hardly the only oil company playing back-to-the-future right now, mind you. BP, which had been talking about reducing its oil output by 40 per cent by the end of this decade, instead announced in early February that it would increase spending on oil and gas development (along with a similar increase in renewable projects) by approximately $1 billion per year. After raking in a record $27.7 billion last year, it apparently wasn’t quite so willing to give up its golden goose just yet. “This feels, to us, an important moment for the oil and gas industry,” Alastair Syme, an analyst at Citigroup, wrote in a note to clients in early February.
You might think, given these enormous profits, that Canada’s oil and gas companies would at least have the decency to invest their own money in the carbon capture and storage projects they describe as the key to their futures. Alas, they’re still holding out for another taxpayer subsidy — one that could be upwards of $50 billion.
Alex Pourbaix, the longtime CEO of Cenovus, just announced he was handing over the reins of his company so he could focus on pressuring provincial and federal governments for more money. "Next to safety, there is nothing more important to Cenovus and our industry than reaching a durable solution between government and industry to achieve our emission aspirations," he said. "Once I move to the executive chair position, I intend to dedicate even more time to this pivotal external issue for both Cenovus and our industry."
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The federal government, which is expected to deliver its budget over the next few weeks, needs to brace itself here. The lobbying coming from Alberta will be intense, and the attempts to work the refs on this issue will put even the best hockey players to shame. You can be sure that Pierre Poilievre and his various digital petro-proxies will be more than happy to amplify those messages demanding even more financial support for an already hugely profitable industry.
But with the proposed carbon capture tax credit, the possibility of so-called “carbon contracts for difference” (insurance against the carbon tax being canceled, essentially) being included in the budget and the improved industrial carbon pricing structure that Alberta just agreed to (yes, agreed), Canada already has enough carrots and sticks in place to support investment. “We have these pieces,” says Jan Gorski, the director of the Pembina Institute’s oil and gas program. “We still need to get them over the finish line, but we have the right suite of tools.”
The real question is whether the industry will ever actually use them.
For all of their ambitious talk about reducing emissions and getting to net zero, Canada’s biggest oil and gas companies have been conspicuously cautious about putting any real money to work on major emissions reductions projects, with some actively lobbying against regulations that would reduce emissions in the recent past. Instead, they’ve shovelled almost all of their growing pile of cash into the pockets of their shareholders.
That doesn’t sit well with Catherine McKenna, Canada’s former environment minister and the recent chair of an expert panel on net-zero commitments established by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. Net zero means “actually investing in the technology you say you need,” she told The Narwhal. “If you’re very serious about it, you would actually be making the investments right now while you have a lot of money.”
Once the federal budget is announced, we’ll find out once and for all whether the oil and gas industry is finally ready to put up or shut up when it comes to reducing its emissions.
But if the decision to bring someone like Rich Kruger out of retirement to run one of its biggest companies is any indication, all we’re likely to get is more talk — and more stalling.
The oil companies have no
The oil companies have no intention of addressing the climate crisis; to think otherwise is beyond naive.
Way past time to bring on the
Way past time to bring on the sticks. Catherine McKenna states the obvious.
This from the former editor
This from the former editor of Alberta Oil magazine, who supports not only fatally flawed carbon capture in the oilsands, but also new oilsands export pipelines that enable oilsands expansion — central pillars of Trudeau Liberals' and AB NDP plans to fail on climate.
"Should the government kill the Trans Mountain pipeline project?" (National Observer)
Only last April, Fawcett spoke confidently of the oil industry's commitment to carbon capture, a fake climate solution at taxpayers' expense:
"But this year’s budget, and the incentives it offers for carbon capture and storage, force Canada’s oil industry to push more of its chips into the middle on decarbonization. In order to take full advantage of the credit, companies will have to make major investments in carbon capture projects quickly, since it gets cut in half by 2031.
"By the time fossil fuel producers have sunk that capital into emissions-reducing technology, they’re not going to want to go backwards, no matter how much a new or different prime minister might want them to. That’s especially true if the rest of the world continues to move more decisively towards net-zero in their own economies.
"By tying their hands with their own stated ambitions, which include reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, the federal budget locks Canada’s biggest oil companies onto a path they won’t easily be able to deviate from."
"Steven Guilbeault leads Canada through the hard choices on the road to net-zero" (National Observer, April 18th 2022)
Now Big Oil is backpedalling, and Fawcett along with them:
"Once the federal budget is announced, we’ll find out once and for all whether the oil and gas industry is finally ready to put up or shut up when it comes to reducing its emissions.
"But if the decision to bring someone like Rich Kruger out of retirement to run one of its biggest companies is any indication, all we’re likely to get is more talk — and more stalling."
From the outset, the oilsands industry has insisted that taxpayers foot most of the bill for its fake climate solutions. The Trudeau Liberals said yes.
The carbon capture promoted by Fawcett, the Pembina Institute, the Trudeau's Liberals, and the Pathways Alliance is a mirage. CCS captures a fraction of upstream emissions at high cost while doing nothing to address the 80-90% of emissions from a barrel of oil that occur downstream at the consumer end. CCS is not just doomed to fail, it's designed to fail.
P.S. Suncor divested from renewables last year.
Fawcett: "Canada already has
Fawcett: "Canada already has enough carrots and sticks in place to support investment. 'We have these pieces,' says Jan Gorski, the director of the Pembina Institute’s oil and gas program. 'We still need to get them over the finish line, but we have the right suite of tools.'"
Pembina is fatally compromised on carbon capture.
Government and media give controlled opposition groups like the corporate-funded, industry-friendly Pembina Institute a big platform — far too much clout in negotiations with government and industry — and an outsize voice in the public square.
ENGOs almost universally oppose carbon capture subsidies for the O&G industry. The Pembina Institute is the sole exception.Pembina does not represent the environmental or climate action community on this issue, but receives the lion's share of attention.
Unlike most ENGOs and the 400+ scientists and academics who signed an open letter in January 2022 criticizing federal support for carbon capture (CCS) in the O&G sector, the largely corporate-sponsored Pembina Institute has long supported both carbon capture in Canada's O&G sector and massive public subsidies to fund it.
Who elected Pembina to speak for Canada's climate movement and make bad deals with industry? Why is Pembina supporting plans to fail?
A controlled opposition group, Pembina has long promoted oxymoronic "responsible" oilsands development and collaborated with industry on failed climate plans. Working hand in glove with industry, Pembina blurs the line between advocacy and collusion.
"Meet the green group that the oilpatch can work with" (Financial Post, April 21, 2016)
Pembina's biggest funders are oil & gas companies, and the Big Banks that back them.
It would be interesting for
It would be interesting for the Pembina Institute to place their polices in a side-by-side comparison with the IEA's, which now calls for shutting down all new fossil fuel project investments and for winding down the industry altogether and ramping up investments into renewables. The IEA has a large bank of analysts, scientists and economists they can tap and therein produce very deep diving reports founded on well-backed research backed again with full publication of results and sources.
What makes this remarkable is that the IEA used to be totally pro-oil until fairly recently, but saw the climate and economic data and had the principles and maturity to change course along with their funding partners.
It seems we are witnessing
It seems we are witnessing stranded assets in the making. A fascinating scene!
Words words and more Bb ss.
Words words and more Bb ss. Promises vs Profits, no contest. Shareholders are laughing all the way to bank. Between CEOs and Boards, and Shareholders, the public is being conned.