Big Oil-Funded Meeting of Canadian Energy Ministers Ends: Did They Get What They Paid For?


Canada’s energy ministers ended two days of annual talks Tuesday in the Kananaskis resort in the Alberta Rockies announcing they have agreed to work together on opening up new markets to Canadian crude oil.

They also agreed to work on streamlining the process for approving energy projects.

In a communiqué, the ministers said they also aim to improve energy efficiency, energy information and electricity reliability.

In an admirable show of independence, Ontario’s energy minister refused to support the final communiqué issued, because it referred to the Alberta tar sands as “sustainable and responsible”. It appears that Big Oil money talks but not everybody listened this weekend.  The McGuinty government is responsible for the visionary Green Energy Act that focuses on jumpstarting renewable energy production in this province.  Ontario plans to keep up the focus on energy policy, particularly renewables, at the upcoming Premier’s meeting in B.C:

“For years, if not decades, governments in Ottawa of all political stripes have sought to find ways to transfer Ontario tax dollars into Western Canada to support the oil and gas industry,” said Mr. McGuinty, when asked in Oakville, Ont., about his views on the meeting.

“Well, how about using Canadian tax dollars to support clean energy industry that is taking place, that is developing – we’re at the forefront in North America, we’re creating thousands of jobs, we’re reducing our contribution to climate change. We’re shutting down coal-fired plants.”

Mr. McGuinty said these are “difficult things” to do. “What we’re saying to the feds is, ‘Hey, you want to help support energy superpowers, you’ve got to take a look at the entire country. Take a look at the contribution that each province is making, and I think we’re making a powerful contribution.’ ” Read more at the Globe and Mail.

Meanwhile, First Nations and environmental groups are dismayed at the official support of the energy ministers for the Alberta tar sands, the dirtiest project on earth. Ed Whittingham of the Alberta-based Pembina Institute wrote:

“While the ministers expressed interest in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from energy production, their decision to call Canada’s oilsands a ‘sustainable’ source of energy for the world raises serious questions about that goal.

“Non-renewable, high-carbon sources of energy are by their very nature unsustainable. Canada needs to plan for a transition away from depending on exports of such sources, like the oilsands.

“A national energy framework needs to seize the economic opportunities offered by clean energy and achieve Canada’s climate targets. Unfortunately, the documents released today failed to make either addressing climate change or supporting renewable energy a priority.

“Before their next meeting, Canada’s energy ministers need to outline a national energy framework built on meaningful dialogue with citizens. An effective framework must also include a price on greenhouse gas pollution as a central feature.”

Meanwhile, while Canadian policy formally ignores the reality of climate change, the worst drought in half a century continues to kill Somalis by the tens of thousands,  the UN Security Council considers a proposal to form a climate change peacekeeping force, and the ongoing heat wave across much of North America kills at least 13 people in the American heartland.

More links:

Ontario Refuses To Call Alberta’s Oil Sands “Sustainable and Responsible”

Les écologistes pas convaincus

Pembina Reacts To the Outcome of Energy Ministers’ Meeting in Kananaskis

Ontario Tax Dollars Supporting Energy in the West, McGuinty Says

Energy Ministers to Seek New Oil Markets

Big Oil Bankrolls Meeting on Canada’s Energy Future

At least it’s clear who’s setting the agenda at this weekend’s meeting of Provincial and Federal Ministers of Energy and Mines. It turns out the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and the Oil Sands Developers Group are the major sponsors of the annual meeting of energy and mines ministers in Kananaskis, Alberta. On the agenda is  Canada’s energy future and the path towards a national energy strategy.

It is unusual to allow any corporate sponsorship of these meetings, never mind to the tune of nearly $200,000. The last energy ministers meeting held in Western Canada in 2008 received a total of $3000 from one corporate sponsor, and when the ministers met last year in Montreal the organizers chose not to accept any funding from the private sector. In contrast, oil companies are bankrolling this weekend’s meeting to the tune of $180,000, roughly 1/3 of the entire conference costs.

In the second decade of the 21st century, Canadians are facing a choice between an energy future built around a rapid expansion of the Alberta tar sands and an alternative vision that would serve all Canadians (not just those with investments in the tar sands), one that would make Canada a leader in clean energy and ensure that Canada does its fair share to reduce global warming pollution.  What are the chances that a clean, renewable future will be chosen when this meeting is paid for by Big Oil?

Take action – David Suzuki Foundation: Tell your energy minister to stand up for a clean energy future. Better yet, after you’ve sent an email, pick up the phone and call your energy minister and tell him you’re not happy that Big Oil is setting the agenda for Canada’s energy future.

More links:

Energy Ministers Must Prove They Are Not Captives Of Their Oil Industry Sponsors

Corporate Sponsorship For Energy Meeting Slammed

Big Oil Sponsors Energy Meeting

Sponsorship page for 2011 Energy and Mines Ministers Conference

From boreal forest to tar sands wasteland, brought to you by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers