No more excuses for Big Oil

Opinion: Hard to cry poverty, earning $3 billion a day in pure profit.

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Temperatures are rising again in British Columbia Heat domes and fires are ravaging Europe, most of Asia and the United States At the same time, overwhelming evidence is emerging that the oil and gas sector in knowingly takes advantage out of destructive shows at $3 billion a day. It would seem like a strange time for our Minister of the Environment, Stephen Guilbeault, former director of Greenpeace, to come to the defense of the oil and gas industry in Canada. But that’s exactly what he did earlier this weeksuggesting that Canada may not meet its 2030 targets because big oil companies need more time and more money.

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These are the same companies that have long known the damage they cause to the safety, security and habitability of this planet, now and in the future. These are the same companies that have made billions in pure profits over the past 50 years. After all this time and all these profits, the government and all Canadians — who are already feeling the climate effects of their actions — cannot swallow that they need more time and more money. Money is the thing they have, and time is the only thing we don’t have.

Their pledges are only a fraction of what Canada needs to meet its 2030 emissions targets, and they still rely on untested carbon capture technology to get there. How will we make up the difference if they don’t achieve their goals? Which industry will take over for Big Oil – which accounted for 26% of national emissions in 2019 — not doing its fair share? Guilbeault lacked details on this part of the plan.

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

Instead of making the case for Big Oil to continue producing and emitting, the federal government should work to reduce demand for fossil fuels. Where is the massive transportation overhaul? Fast trains to replace short-haul flights? Building and renovation mandates and regulations? Where are the significant investments in renewable energy, infrastructure, manufacturing and people? Where are the programs, grants, and training for oil and gas workers transitioning to jobs that will support their families without destroying their children’s futures as well?

The solutions are here. It is the political will that seems to be lacking. And while Stephen Guilbeault plays softball with the oil and gas industry, time is running out.

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

Joan J. Holland