The biggest barrier to climate action in Canada is the oil and gas lobby. For decades the fossil fuel lobby has masterfully weakened, derailed, and outright blocked government climate policy. And the largest lobby group for oil and gas producers in Canada is the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), a group that truly embodies some big #ClimateVillain energy.
That’s why the Climate Villain this month is Lisa Baiton, the CEO of CAPP.
Baiton: The Lying Lobbyist
Baiton is carrying forward CAPP’s longstanding talking points. For example, trying to rebrand the tar sands as ‘ethical’ despite its impacts on the climate, environment and frontline communities. Tar sands oil is one of the dirtiest, most carbon intensive crude oil in the world. But the oil and gas lobby doesn’t care about the facts or the climate, it cares about what’s in the best interest of its private corporations and their shareholders – keeping the oil and industry profits flowing.
The fossil fuel lobby meddles with Canadian politics and inserts itself into international climate change politics and diplomacy. 636 fossil fuel lobbyists were part of official country delegations to the last United Nations climate negotiations (UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and Conference of Parties 27, or COP27). That’s more fossil fuel lobbyists than any single national delegation, except for the UAE, the host of this year’s conference.
Fossil fuel interests don’t just infiltrate climate negotiations through official delegations. Even more fossil fuel lobbyists attend outside of official delegations, including Lisa Baiton. Baiton was at COP27 and is expected to return for COP28, which runs from November 30th until December 12th, 2023. This year, the fossil fuel lobby is anticipated to have an even bigger presence than before.
It’s clear that the oil and gas industry doesn’t have the public interest at heart, and can’t be trusted to take the necessary steps to address climate change on its own. We need governments to regulate industry. We’re already in an energy transition, and governments have a key role to play in making sure the phase out of fossil fuels maximizes benefits and is supported by a just transition for workers.
CAPP is trying to buy and build the social license (ie. political and public support) for fossil fuels, but we can tell our elected officials not to fall for CAPP’s pro-oil propaganda and to instead prioritize climate action.
Take action: Tweet at the Minister of Natural Resources Canada, Jonathan Wilkinson, to tell him not to buy CAPP’s greenwashing and take urgent action on climate change by limiting emissions from Canada’s biggest source of pollution – the fossil fuel industry.
Baiton’s career has been dedicated to promoting Canada’s fossil fuel sector to investors around the world. As always, the format is satirical but the information is real.
- Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers: 2022 – Present
- Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board: 2020-2021
- Environics Research: 2004-2010
- Government of Ontario, Office of the Premier: 2003
- Government of Canada
- Government of Saskatchewan
Villain Career Profile
Lisa Baiton is the CEO of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), the oil industry’s biggest lobby group. CAPP is one of the busiest lobbyists in Canada, using union dues from oil companies to fight climate action. Under Baiton’s leadership, CAPP has lobbied the federal government 74 times in the first 9 months of 2023 – that’s once every 2.5 days!
Baiton expects high performance teams, and CAPP has successfully achieved many of their goals: delaying and weakening of provincial and federal government climate regulations, massive subsidies and new project approvals.
She also believes in getting the job done outside of the office. CAPP has created astroturf groups (industry-funded groups created to appear as grassroots movements), like Canada’s Energy Citizens, to try to weaken and kill climate policies. For years CAPP has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to boost advertising on Facebook, including ads that explicitly urged people to oppose limits on greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas industry.
Baiton came to CAPP from the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and aims to promote Canada’s fossil fuel sector to investors around the world. She is working to keep Canada’s financial future tied to climate disaster caused by continued use of polluting fossil fuels.
- Since her appointment in 2022, Baiton has focused on pitching the oil and gas industry in Canada to global financiers. She regularly downplays the industry’s contribution to global warming, uses misleading language to convince the public that there is such a thing as ‘ethical oil’, and makes false or exaggerated claims to stoke fear about transitioning off of oil and gas.
- CAPP lobbied the federal government 74 times in the first nine months of 2023 and was the most active lobbyist of the month in April and August.
- So far this year Baiton is listed on the federal lobby registry as having 15 meetings with MPs and 14 meetings with federal Ministers, including 6 meetings with Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Natural Resources Canada.
Investing Canadians’ public pension in fossil fuels
- Baiton was head of global public affairs at the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), which insists on remaining invested in fossil fuels despite public pressure.
- This illustrates an important broader trend: the majority of Canada’s big pension funds share board members with fossil fuel companies, which points to potential conflicts of interest.
- During her tenure the CPPIB increased its investments in domestic and international fossil fuels. It reported growing investment from $9.9 billion in 2016 to $11.6 billion in 2020, and by the time Baiton left CPPIB to lead CAPP in 2021, the CPPIB revealed that over $17 billion was invested in hydrocarbon-dependent assets. In July, 2022, CPPIB said it held a staggering $21.72 billion in fossil fuel producers alone.
Pervasive Influence Beyond the Oil Boardroom
- Baiton’s appointments across many boards, as well as her prior work for governments and crown corporations, shows how the interests of the fossil fuel industry can be subtly diffused and upheld across institutions.
Board Appointments and Memberships
- Energy Safety Canada (2022-present)
- Clean Resource Innovation Network (2022-Present)
- C.D. How Institute (2017-2021)
- The Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences (2017-2020)
- Asia Business Leaders Advisory Council (2023-present)
- Mitacs (2007-2012)
- Canada-India Business Council (2014-2017)
- Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada (2014-2021)
- Canada China Business Council (2012-2020)
- Canadian Centre for Diversity (2006-2009)
- Empire Club of Canada (2004-2008)
- Casey House (2001-2003)
The Climate Villains campaign highlights the leaders of the fossil fuel industry that play key roles in expanding and financing climate-wrecking fossil fuels, blocking climate action, and spreading disinformation. These villains are more concerned about their profits and wealth than the future of the planet, and that’s why we’re profiling the ‘resume’ of each climate villain.
We know that government intervention is critical for tackling the climate crisis with decisive urgency and at the scale necessary, so our approach is to put pressure on governments to pass more ambitious climate policies.
While we aim to advance policy that works in the public interest, oil and gas executives, and their powerful allies, are using their political power to block climate action in order to personally profit from more oil and gas production. This is nothing new: these companies have been actively blocking climate policy for decades. Their earlier tactics involved straight-up climate denial, and now they have pivoted to delaying, greenwashing and pushing dangerous distractions. And many people, including those in the government, are falling for it.
That’s why each month we’ll highlight one of the villains, so you can learn more about the tactics they use to delay climate action and what you can do to fight back for real climate solutions.