When a famous quotation is attributed to several historic figures at once, it seems to me the quote probably holds some value.
Take this one: ‘A lie travels halfway around the world before truth can get its pants on.’ The statement’s been credited to Churchill, Twain, Jefferson, Swift and maybe dozens more. With claimants like those, I’ll accept the content, and I’ll go even further:
Writing a false or misleading narrative attacking the Canadian oil and gas industry might cause some initial confusion in the minds of the public, and might even linger in the political consciousness for a while as the truth gets dressed.
But false narratives do more than cause confusion; often they damage the environment.
For years my organization has been advocating for credible information to be always at the ready, if only so that truth is suited up and good to go any moment it’s called upon.
Applying accessible, verifiable, objective data and working with a sincere, committed group of volunteers across the country, we’ve consistently called out activists from David Suzuki, Tzeporah Berman and Bill Nye to Leo DiCaprio, Neil Young and Jane Fonda – and many more.
We’ve been responding rapidly and regularly to false statements of many activists because we think the thousands in our network of First Nations, energy employees, contractors, suppliers, small business owners and their families across Canada are worth that effort.
By twisting the truth and playing down Canada’s enviable record on oil and gas, or by minimizing industry’s continual improvements to practices within our natural resources sector, activists imperil the global environment, our people and our communities — both Indigenous and non-Indigenous. That, in turn has a devastating impact on so many who rely on our regulated, constantly evolving industry to support their way of life.
I continue to argue that, while so many activists claim to care about Indigenous rights, reduction of CO2 emissions or landscape reclamation, industry supporters involved in the research, development and implementation of technology and innovation seem to care a lot more.
Why else would Canada be the only top-ten oil exporter on the planet with carbon-pricing initiatives that have been in operation since 2007?
Beyond the gap between activist posturing and industry action, is there some other way to make sense of the fact that, if the entire world adapted Canadian standards for flaring in oil and gas production, emissions per barrel of global production would drop by 23 percent?
How else can we explain that, while activists claim Canadian oil is “the dirtiest in the world,” credible peer-reviewed studies on both sides of the Canada-US border point to several international suppliers selling oil with significantly higher CO2 emissions per barrel than ours?
Is there any other way to explain the stark disconnect between the fact that activists target our nation’s energy products while Canadian industry emissions from the oil sands have dropped below the world average emissions per barrel?
The answer to these questions is ‘no.’
I challenge any activist to reconcile the grim stories told by industry opponents with the positive realities that are easily known – that the Canadian oil and gas sector spends more than any other industry in the country on environmental protection, or that the energy industry collaborates widely to promote environmental stewardship and to share intellectual property with a view to improving standards across the sector.
Here’s another truth that’s suited up and ready to go: Canadians are leaders in developing and putting into practice the most stringent energy standards and regulations in the world.
From collaborating among industry over the launch of a satellite for tracking CO2 emissions from space, to leading the world in carbon capture and storage technology, it seems to me the Canadian oil and gas sector deserves the support of those who claim to be fighting for the climate.
Yet environmental groups push for a prohibition on oil sands activities and fight against pipelines that would allow our country to compete in the world, and instead force Canadians to use 700,000 barrels per day of imported product from countries with often an inferior record of environmental and human rights protections. That’s not just a bad business decision, but a bad environmental one.
It’s time for environmental activists to join the growing chorus of Indigenous and non-Indigenous leaders and communities across Canada who say they’re for Canadian oil and gas, produced to the highest environmental standards on earth and providing the largest single contribution to Canada’s economy.
Cody Battershill is a Calgary realtor and founder / spokesperson for CanadaAction.ca, a volunteer built organization that supports Canadian energy development and the environmental, social and economic benefits that come with it.