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Energy

Bill Banning Oil and Gas Ads Won’t Pass, and Rightfully So

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9 minute read

From EnergyNow.ca

By Margareta Dovgal of Resource Works 

” it wouldn’t just ban “advertising” but would also punish anyone caught saying anything positive about fossil fuels in Canada.

Corporate producers could be jailed for two years or be hit with a $1-million fine. The penalties for smaller agencies and individuals could mean $500,000 fines and imprisonment for two years less a day. “

Resource Works Margareta Dovgal shakes her head at a private member’s bill in Parliament.

Jail for saying something positive about oil and gas?

Yes, really.

Fines or prison time are in a private member’s bill before the House of Commons, Bill C-372 from NDP MP Charlie Angus, an Act Respecting Fossil Fuel Advertising.

Only it wouldn’t just ban “advertising” but would also punish anyone caught saying anything positive about fossil fuels in Canada.

Corporate producers could be jailed for two years or be hit with a $1-million fine. The penalties for smaller agencies and individuals could mean $500,000 fines and imprisonment for two years less a day.

There are several prohibitions. Section 6 would prohibit promoting a fossil fuel, and Section 8 would, for one, prohibit promoting LNG as having less impact than other fossil fuels, and prohibit spreading the word on a positive impact, such as reducing net emissions or contributing to Indigenous economic reconciliation.

The legislation would prohibit companies and people from making comparisons between different types of fossil fuels — even if the comparisons were factually and scientifically accurate. To say that one fuel that has a lower emissions profile than another would be illegal if the bill passes.

Angus as an MP has generally supported First Nations needs and priorities, but his bill was quickly slammed by some First Nations leaders. No surprise, as Canada’s oil and gas sector employs 10,400 Indigenous people, better than 6% of the total workforce. And nearly 50 Indigenous communities are becoming owners of major oil and gas and energy projects.

Angus’s First Nations critics have included these:

  • Stephen Buffalo, CEO of the Indian Resource Council: “One of the most contemptible pieces of legislation since the introduction of the Indian Act in 1876. “Angus’ proposed fossil fuel advertising act would outlaw oil and gas advertising and the ‘promotion’ of fossil fuels, even by some private citizens. If passed, this would be the most egregious attack on civil liberties in recent Canadian history.

“Angus and his environmental supporters . . .   have shown themselves to be no fans of Indigenous peoples. These single-minded environmentalist organizations ignore the interests of First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities, except when they want to impose their will on them.”

  • Karen Ogen, CEO of the First Nations LNG Alliance: “The NDP MP for Timmins-James Bay and his party want to shut down fossil fuel production, a move that would devastate the Canadian economy and undermine the greatest — and often the only — opportunity that many First Nations have for economic renewal.

“Even that is not enough. He wants to shut us up, telling us what to think and threatening us with jail and fines for not adhering to his strange, unrealistic and dangerous views of energy and environmental protection.”

And columnist Brian Lilley in The Toronto Sun called Angus’s bill “a joke” and “one of the craziest private member’s bills that I’ve ever read.”

Some commentators have seen the the bill as criminalizing dissent, rather than trying to get people on board with Angus’s cause in a constructive and meaningfully engaged way as you have to do in a democracy.

It all comes amid debate over environmental policy in Canada, and, following court rulings on some federal moves, over jurisdictional overreach.

Over the last two decades, environmental policy has been a more prominent part of federal politics. The federal government, particularly through Steven Guilbeault, minister of environment and climate change, has increased its presence and powers in matters environmental.

But there have been cases where the feds have tiptoed over the jurisdictional line, as the provinces have rights under the constitution to manage their own natural resources.

Angus’s misguided bill could also establish a dangerous precedent. How could Canadians talk democratically about any issue, adopt positions on it, and democratically resolve it, if the law banned them from advocating their positions?

Angus’s bill needs also to be treated with plain common sense: 80% of all of the energy we use in the world right now comes from fossil fuels. They are thus literally the foundation for the modern life and civilization that we have globally right now.

It’s a little bit bizarre, too, for MP Angus and his fans to say he’s merely doing for oil and gas what Canada has long done to restrict tobacco advertising.

Tobacco was a big industry in Canada, and continues to be one globally. Yes, tobacco has some serious health effects. But tobacco doesn’t keep the world’s economy running.

As we talk about solutions to climate change, as we try to deal with over 100 years of putting fossil fuels into the mix to power our daily life, it’s undeniable that we have emitted (and still emit) a lot of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

But criminalizing merely talking about one of the key components of our energy system is a really bizarre approach to problem solving.

It also seems a weird move from a party, the NDP, that is committed to democracy and democratic rights. There was significant silence on the bill from NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, although when two NDP MLAs in Alberta questioned the bill, he said, “We’re a large party and that’s a normal thing that happens.”

The office of Environment Minister Guilbeault: “We welcome the NDP’s bill to the House. Advertisement has a big role to play in public perception, and the industry is raking in record profits. We will carefully assess their bill and look forward to productive debates and discussions around this important issue.”

Fortunately, the chances of the law passing are slim to none, even if it goes to second reading.

In the end, Charlie Angus’s bill will die a quiet death in Parliament. And so it should.

Margareta Dovgal is Managing Director of Resource Works. Based in Vancouver, she holds a Master of Public Administration in Energy, Technology and Climate Policy from University College London. Beyond her regular advocacy on natural resources, environment, and economic policy, Margareta also leads our annual Indigenous Partnerships Success Showcase. She can be found on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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Alberta

Canada’s advantage as the world’s demand for plastic continues to grow

Published on

From the Canadian Energy Centre

By Will Gibson

‘The demand for plastics reflects how essential they are in our lives’

From the clothes on your back to the containers for household products to the pipes and insulation in your home, plastics are interwoven into the fabric of day-to-day life for most Canadians.

And that reliance is projected to grow both in Canada and around the world in the next three decades

The Global Plastics Outlook, published by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), forecasts the use of plastics globally will nearly triple by 2060, driven by economic and population growth.  

The use of plastics is projected to double in OECD countries like Canada, the United States and European nations, but the largest increases will take place in Asia and Africa. 

“The demand for plastics reflects how essential they are in our lives, whether it is packaging, textiles, building materials or medical equipment,” says Christa Seaman, vice-president, plastics with the Chemical Industry Association of Canada (CIAC), which represents Canada’s plastics producers.  

She says as countries look to meet climate and sustainability goals, demand for plastic will grow. 

“Plastics in the market today demonstrate their value to our society. Plastics are used to make critical components for solar panels and wind turbines. But they also can play a role in reducing weight in transportation or in ensuring goods that are transported have less weight in their packaging or in their products.” 

Canada produces about $35 billion worth of plastic resin and plastic products per year, or over five per cent of Canadian manufacturing sales, according to a 2019 report published by the federal government.  

Seaman says Canadian plastic producers have competitive advantages that position them to grow as demand rises at home and abroad. In Alberta, a key opportunity is the abundant supply of natural gas used to make plastic resin.  

“As industry and consumer expectations shift for production to reduce emissions, Canada, and particularly Alberta, are extremely well placed to meet increased demand thanks to its supply of low-carbon feedstock. Going forward, production with less emissions is going to be important for companies,” Seaman says.  

“You can see that with Dow Chemical’s decision to spend $8.8 billion on a net zero facility in Alberta.” 

While modern life would not be possible without plastics, the CIAC says there needs to be better post-use management of plastic products including advanced recycling, or a so-called “circular economy” where plastics are seen as a resource or feedstock for new products, not a waste. 

Some companies have already started making significant investments to generate recyclable plastics.  

For example, Inter Pipeline Ltd.’s $4.3 billion Heartland Petrochemical Complex near Edmonton started operating in 2023. It produces a recyclable plastic called polypropylene from propane, with 65 per cent lower emissions than the global average thanks to the facility’s integrated design. 

Achieving a circular economy – where 90 per cent of post-consumer plastic waste is diverted or recycled – would benefit Canada’s economy, according to the CIAC.  

Deloitte study, commissioned by Environment & Climate Change Canada, estimated diverting or reusing 90 per cent of post-consumer plastic waste by 2030 will save $500 million annually while creating 42,000 direct and indirect jobs. It would also cut Canada’s annual CO2 emissions by 1.8 megatonnes.  

Right now, about 85 per cent of plastics end up in Canada’s landfills. To reach the 90 per cent diversion rate, Seaman says Canada must improve its infrastructure to collect and process the plastic waste currently being landfilled. 

But she also says the industry rather than municipalities need to take responsibility for recycling plastic waste.  

“This concept is referred to as extended producer responsibility. Municipalities have the responsibility for managing recycling within a waste management system. Given the competing costs and priorities, they don’t have the incentive to invest into recycling infrastructure when landfill space was the most cost-effective solution for them,” she says.  

“Putting that responsibility on the producers who put the products on the market makes the most sense…The industry is adapting, and we hope government policy will recognize this opportunity for Canada to meet our climate goals while growing our economy.” 

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Economy

Extreme Weather and Climate Change

Published on

From the Fraser Insitute

By Kenneth P. Green

Contrary to claims by many climate activists and politicians, extreme weather events—including forest fires, droughts, floods and hurricanes—are not increasing in frequency or intensity, finds a new study published today by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank.

“Earth Day has become a time when extraordinary claims are made about extreme weather events, but before policymakers act on those extreme claims—often with harmful regulations—it’s important to study the actual evidence,” said Kenneth Green, a senior fellow with the Fraser Institute and author of Extreme Weather and Climate Change.

The study finds that global temperatures have increased moderately since 1950 but there is no evidence that extreme weather events are on the rise, including:

• Drought: Data from the World Meteorological Organization Standardized Precipitation Index showed no statistically significant trends in drought duration or magnitude—with the exception of some small regions in Africa and South America—from 1900 to 2020.

• Flooding: Research in the Journal of Hydrology in 2017, analyzing 9,213 recording stations around the world, found there were more stations exhibiting significant decreasing trends (in flood risk) than increasing trends.

• Hurricanes: Research conducted for the World Meteorological Organization in 2019 (updated in 2023) found no long-term trends in hurricanes or major hurricanes recorded globally going back to 1980.

• Forest Fires: The Royal Society in London, in 2020, found that when considering the total area burned at the global level, there is no overall increase, but rather a decline over the last decades. In Canada, data from Canada’s Wildland Fire Information System show that the number of fires and the area burned in Canada have both been declining over the past 30 years.

“The evidence is clear—many of the claims that extreme weather events are increasing are simply not empirically true,” Green said.

“Before governments impose new regulations or enact new programs, they need to study the actual data and base their actions on facts, not unsubstantiated claims.”

  • Assertions are made claiming that weather extremes are increasing in frequency and severity, spurred on by humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Based on such assertions, governments are enacting ever more restrictive regulations on Canadian consumers of energy products, and especially Canada’s energy sector. These regulations impose significant costs on the Canadian economy, and can exert downward pressure on Canadian’s standard of living.
  • According to the UN IPCC, evidence does suggest that some types of extreme weather have become more extreme, particularly those relating to temperature trends.
  • However, many types of extreme weather show no signs of increasing and in some cases are decreasing. Drought has shown no clear increasing trend, nor has flooding. Hurricane intensity and number show no increasing trend. Globally, wildfires have shown no clear trend in increasing number or intensity, while in Canada, wildfires have actually been decreasing in number and areas consumed from the 1950s to the present.
  • While media and political activists assert that the evidence for increasing harms from increasing extreme weather is iron-clad, it is anything but. In fact, it is quite limited, and of low reliability. Claims about extreme weather should not be used as the basis for committing to long-term regulatory regimes that will hurt current Canadian standards of living, and leave future generations worse off.

The Fraser Institute is an independent Canadian public policy research and educational
organization with offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal and ties to a global
network of think-tanks in 87 countries. Its mission is to improve the quality of life for Canadians,
their families and future generations by studying, measuring and broadly communicating the
effects of government policies, entrepreneurship and choice on their well-being. To protect the
Institute’s independence, it does not accept grants from governments or contracts for research.
Visit www.fraserinstitute.org

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