In the bigger discussions around sustainability, there’s been a trend away from single, inflexible decision-making models toward a multiparty cooperative approach.
In cases where all parties are willing to stick to a process and be honest about their principles, that approach can work really well. But when one interested party demonstrably misleads the public – the approach simply can’t work.
When I’m asked why some energy companies seem hesitant to commit to mutually beneficial, long-term relationships with their key opponents, I simply point to career activist Tzeporah Berman, who recently claimed on CBC radio that “demand for oil is falling.”
Berman, a self-described energy expert, must be aware the International Energy Agency forecasts that, by 2023, oil demand will reach almost 105 million barrels per day, up almost seven million barrels from the current year, driven mainly by demand from China and India. She must also know current demand is up 10 million barrels per day since 2010.
And I’ve pointed out in the past what Berman told Californians recently about Alberta energy – via a brochure from her latest activist group Stand.earth: “Everyone agrees – tar sands [her words] is by far the dirtiest type of oil. It has an outsized climate impact, is terrible for air quality, and when it spills it’s significantly harder to clean up than conventional crude oil.”
But it’s not true that “everyone agrees.” If this is how Berman and her anti-oil activist lobby approaches multi-stakeholder processes, then we obviously have a problem.
Each of her above-noted claims has been proven wrong over and over again. The “dirtiest oil in North America” comes from Placerita, just outside L.A. At least six other countries have dirtier product.
Further, Nigeria produces the world’s dirtiest oil, while fully 96 per cent of California’s imported oil is non-Canadian, and much of it originates in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Ecuador and Mexico. There’s no outsized climate impact associated with Canadian product, and it’s no harder to clean up.
But Berman’s not alone. The Pembina Institute – self-described fighters of climate change – continues to oppose even LNG Canada, the largest infrastructure proposal in Canadian history, even though it would reduce global GHG emissions and has the lowest emissions of any major LNG facility worldwide.
Perhaps it’s time for these activist opponents to drop their positions, commit to transparency and join the modern movement toward cooperation on key projects for the benefit of Canada.
But I won’t hold my breath.
Cody Battershill is a Calgary realtor and founder/spokesperson for CanadaAction.ca, a volunteer organization that supports Canadian energy development and the environmental, social and economic benefits that come with it.