When you look at a bunch of bananas in your neighbourhood grocery store, a few thoughts might spring to mind: breakfast, banana splits on hot summer days or vacationing in the tropics. Chances are you don’t think about oil. But, getting all ...
When you look at a bunch of bananas in your neighbourhood grocery store, a few thoughts might spring to mind: breakfast, banana splits on hot summer days or vacationing in the tropics. Chances are you don’t think about oil. But, getting all of those bananas to customers takes a lot of it.
That’s why the tar sands industry should be paying close attention to today’s news that Chiquita Banana, which feeds North Americans millions of bananas each day, has committed to avoid fuel from tar sands refineries
for its transportation fleet. In doing so, Chiquita is joining a growing number of big U.S. companies that are rejecting carbon-heavy tar sands oil in efforts to lower the carbon footprint of transporting their goods to customers. Fifteen companies
have already publicly announced such efforts including companies as different as Walgreens and Whole Foods.
Big businesses aren’t the only ones opting for cleaner fuels. Chiquita’s announcement comes as California’s Air Resources Board is debating proposed changes to its Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). California first adopted the LCFS in 2009 to require fuel suppliers to phase out dirty fuels like tar sands and invest in cleaner alternatives. Big oil companies have been mounting an intense lobbying effort to weaken the standard
, in particular to turn a blind eye to the higher carbon content of tar sands oil.
Tomorrow the Air Resources Board will debate changes to the LCFS, with environmental groups and clean energy companies
that are creating jobs as a result of the standard lining up to support a strong fuel policy and big oil companies fighting against it. Europe is also considering a similar policy that would discriminate against tar sands oil because it has more carbon than conventional oil.
The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers might be pleased with
the weak outcome at Durban and Canada’s withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol, but these market shifts show that it will be short lived. If the industry were listening, it would be ramping up investment in cleaner, low carbon fuels and supporting regulations to reduce carbon pollution. So is it?
Nope. A recent analysis
by the Natural Resources Defense Council found that over the past five years, for every dollar the oil industry spent to find and produce more oil, less than half a penny was spent on producing renewable fuels. The industry has invested 50 times more in producing tar sands alone than in renewable energy.
‘Tar sands free bananas’ doesn’t exactly have the same ring to it as fair trade coffee, but as we’ve seen in the past with coffee and FSC certification of paper, when the market demands more environmentally and socially responsible products, the suppliers need to eventually respond.