Statement by Emilia Belliveau, Energy Transition Program Manager

Ottawa | Traditional, unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabeg People – At today’s Parliamentary Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development (ENVI), Members of Parliament grilled the fossil fuel industry about their climate pollution. The oil and gas CEOs tried to deflect responsibility for their massive greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), but the writing is on the wall for these Climate Villains: you can’t make oil and gas “green”.

Oil and gas CEOs claim to care about climate change, but their actions paint a different picture. Oil and gas production remains the largest source of climate pollution in Canada, at 31% of the whole country’s emissions. Cenovus CEO Mr. McKenzie falsely claimed that emissions from the oil and gas industry peaked in 2017 when in reality they have continued to rise. Imperial Oil’s CEO Mr. Corson tried to draw focus on efforts to decrease the emissions intensity of oil production, while ignoring the fact that marginal improvements will not offset the growth in pollution from increased production. While Suncor’s Mr. Kruger referenced how emissions don’t stop at state borders, all the CEOs failed to acknowledge the global picture: we must phase out fossil fuels to fight the climate crisis.

Jun 6, 2024. Photo: Environmental Defence Canada

Even more revealing than their emissions record is that Big Oil spends millions of dollars on greenwashing ads to deceive the public and consistently lobbies against meaningful climate policy. In fact, during today’s hearing the CEOs lobbied against any rules that would limit their ability to pollute freely, including the proposed cap on emissions from their industry. Hypocritically, while CEOs like Mr. McKenzie acknowledged the benefits of Canada’s strong environmental regulations; he failed to include that his own company has continuously lobbied against those very same regulations – including 17 meetings this March alone.

The CEOs were scrutinized for earning massive salaries and profits while taking no accountability for their pollution. Suncor CEO Mr. Kruger, who pocketed $36.8 million in his first year, failed to acknowledge the recent legal challenge against Suncor for their repeated violations of air pollution laws in Colorado.

The CEOs, including Imperial’s Mr. Corson and Shell’s Ms. Pierce, repeatedly pointed to carbon capture as part of their climate plans. Yet behind closed doors, these companies admit that this is ineffective technology. That hasn’t stopped them from using it as an excuse to weaken climate progress and justify ongoing production.

These tactics are not new. The industry has known for decades that their products contribute to global warming. Instead of addressing the scientific evidence, they have consistently worked to obstruct climate progress in order to protect their profits.

We applaud the members of the ENVI Committee who asked tough questions and kept sight of the big picture of the climate crisis. Governments need to keep holding Big Oil accountable for its pollution and for the misinformation about climate change that companies have peddled for decades. This starts with putting in place strong rules to regulate pollution from the industry, like the proposed cap on their emissions, and a ban on fossil fuel advertising.

Background Information:

  • CEOs representing some of Canada’s biggest oil and gas polluters were called to testify at the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development (ENVI) about their failure to bring down climate change-causing GHG emissions. The ENVI committee invited Mr. Rich Kruger, CEO of Suncor Energy Inc., Mr. Brad Corson, CEO of Imperial Oil Ltd., Mr. Jon McKenzie, CEO of Cenovus Energy Inc., Mrs. Susannah Pierce, President and Country Chair of Shell Canada Limited and Vice President of Emerging Energy Solutions, and Mr. Greg Ebel, CEO of Enbridge to explain how their activities are impacting Canada’s ability to meet its climate commitments. Ms. Harradence, Executive Vice President and President of Gas Distribution and Storage at Enbridge attended in place of Mr. Ebel. 
  • In recent decades, the increase in extreme wildfires in Western Canada and the United States has been directly linked to greenhouse gas emissions from the fossil fuel industry. Between 1986 and 2021, greenhouse gas emissions from 88 major fossil fuel producers and cement manufacturers were responsible for nearly 40 per cent of the area burned in Western Canada and the United States.
  • Many of these companies lobby the government heavily to oppose emissions reduction. For example, Cenovus, Shell Canada, Suncor, and Imperial Oil are members of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), which has been opposing the proposed cap on emissions for the oil and gas sector. CAPP sent letters to Minister Guilbeault in February and March of 2024 advocating for the withdrawal of the Emissions Cap. CAPP has consistently voiced criticism of the Emissions Cap in their public statements and advocacy. Additionally, the organization opposed methane regulation for the upstream oil and gas sector in comments submitted to the government in February 2024. CAPP was one of the most active lobbyists of the fossil fuel industry in 2023, recording 90 registered lobby meetings. 
  • The Pathways Alliance is being investigated by the Competition Bureau for greenwashing in their “Clear the Air” advertising campaign. Research published in the journal Energy Research and Social Science found the Pathways Alliance engaged in multiple instances of greenwashing in their advertisements, obscuring the oil and gas sector’s carbon pollution and the costs required to eliminate it.
  • Many fossil fuel companies, and in particular the members of the Pathways Alliance, claim to be able to address their emissions through the use of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology while continuing to expand production. According to a recent report by InfluenceMap, “Despite overwhelming advocacy for CCS, Pathways has raised contradictory concerns about the reliability of CCS technologies in more direct communications with policymakers and has opposed government mandates for CCS.” An International Energy Agency report highlights that CCS cannot be used to maintain the status quo. “Continuing with business-as-usual for oil & gas while hoping a vast deployment of carbon capture will cut the emissions is fantasy,” IEA executive director Fatih Birol said in late November 2023.  
  • The United States House Oversight Committee has been investigating Big Oil’s activities since 2021. The investigation has resulted in multiple reports confirming that oil and gas companies have been engaged in decades-long disinformation campaigns to mislead the public and obstruct climate action.  A similar investigation has yet to take place in Canada.

For more information see our backgrounder.

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For more information or to request an interview, please contact:

Midhat Moini, Environmental Defence,