Exposing the Political Manipulation by Oil & Gas Companies in Canada

The Canadian tar sands contribute little to Canada’s economy yet it’s environmental destruction is known internationally. Despite this, the Canadian commitment to killing the planet by exploiting the tar sands is offensive and has held back green policies. Why does this happen?

SHARE has looked into how oil and gas companies lobby Canadian governments to permit their profiteering from planetary destruction. The greenwashing by tar sands companies is used to make it look like they are respecting the environment, this work by SHARE shows that we can’t trust them. This is good news because now we know how oil and gas advocate behind the scenes and we can prevent it.

While at first these commitments seem promising, a second look reveals a less-than-rosy picture of the role of Canadian oil and gas companies in relation to Canada’s climate targets, regulations and the road map to net zero. The most important work any company could do right now is commit to — then get to work on — reducing emissions in absolute terms. However, there are other important ways the oilpatch impacts climate action on a national and global scale. One of these is the extent to which its government relations, or “lobbying” activities, do or do not align with the climate actions Canada must undertake to prevent the worst impacts of climate change from wreaking havoc on our planet. 

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Why Economy Class is Best Class

Private jets (AKA PJs) are really bad for the environment, like really bad. We’ve looked at efforts to ban PJs before, this time let’s examine the relative carbon emissions of different classes of flying. If you’re not rich enough to afford a PJ or a first class ticket then you’re already demonstrating more care for the environment. The wealthy have had a disproportionate impact on climate change.

Of course, the best thing to do with flying emissions is to eliminate them entirely by building more and faster trains.

A 747 flight from London to New York creates 200 tonnes of CO2. If that is divided between all the passengers, that’s 572kg each. Except that business class and first class passengers use more space, and are therefore less efficient and more polluting. A first class ticket on the same plane uses 2,835kg – and why some have suggested ending first class as a quick-win way to reduce aviation emissions. 

The emissions from first class seats are knocked into a top hat by the emissions of private planes. Take your own jet to New York, and you’re looking at over 25 tonnes of CO2.

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Save the Grocery Store, Save the Town

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When markets fail people, then the people need to replace the market. Ir, to put it more directly: when a profitable grocery store isn’t profitable enough for a company then small towns need to buy that grocery store and turn it into a publicly owned asset which keeps the community alive. That’s what small towns in the USA are starting to do. By saving their local, downtown, grocery stores they keep people employed, returning to the town, and overall make life easier for everyone. The future of America might be the small box store.

The city hadn’t had a full-scale grocery store since 1985, and Giefer decided to change that. In 2008, he used city funding to get a new store, St. Paul Supermarket, off the ground. In 2013, when the couple who ran the store was staring down retirement, Giefer convinced the city to buy it outright.

In 2019, Schoenhofer drove to St. Paul to meet with that city’s clerk, who gave her some tips. The experiment, Schoenhofer found, had been a success. The St. Paul grocery employs ~15 people, and it turns a profit of 3%, slightly better than the average for rural grocery stores.

It has also kept people — and spending money — in town. Similarly, in Erie, residents show up to Erie Market for fresh lunches, like a BBQ pulled-pork sandwich or a taco on Taco Tuesday.

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France Pays People to Stop Driving and Start Riding

a couple, bicycles

Car drivers take up way more road space than they need since the size of their vehicles are disproportionate to their usefulness. Smart countries aim to limit the number of single occupant vehicles on the road for this reason and to ensure that all people can easily get from one place to the next. Traffic is so bad in some places that countries, like France, are now paying people to give up on their car.

France is working hard to push urban drivers out of cars and towards smaller and more environmentally responsible forms of transportation. In large cities like Paris, reduction in traffic from a switch to bicycles and scooters is perhaps just as important to many residents as the environmental effects.

We recently covered the case of an electric bicycle company that is switching from vans to cargo e-bikes to increase the number of electric bikes it could deliver each day. The company’s delivery vans were simply too slow in Paris traffic, and switching to cargo e-bikes will help ramp up deliveries by using smaller, quicker, and more efficient vehicles.

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Open Source Tracking of Fossil Fuels Companies

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Information is power, and the fossil fuel companies don’t want anyone but them to have power. They have lied to governments, manipulated political parties, and publicly deny their actions are killing all of us. Obviously, that’s not good.

Now an international team of researchers and concerned organizations have launched the Global Registry of Fossil Fuels to track the work of companies which are actively extracting deadly fuels. The goal is to help decision makers from local politicians to CEOs understand the dangers of the industry and explain plainly what harm they are doing.

Countries around the world are projected to produce more than twice the fossil fuels consistent with 1.5°C by 2030. It is clear that addressing the climate crisis requires managing the supply of fossil fuels, alongside demand-side measures, and that this needs to be done fairly and equitably. The Global Registry of Fossil Fuels is therefore the first the first-ever comprehensive, independent, policy neutral and fully open-source database that demonstrates the scale of CO2 emissions associated with each country’s national reserves and production, thus enabling policy-makers, investors and others to make informed decisions to align fossil fuel production with 1.5°C, and equipping researchers with the data needed to provide timely analysis.

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