Greenpeace warns premiers: don’t fall for Harper’s Shell game

Feature story - July 23, 2012
As the premiers meet to discuss national energy policy, a new report from Greenpeace Canada released today warns them: don’t look to Ottawa for leadership. “Harper’s Shell Game” uses documents obtained under the Access to Information to argue that Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline and Shell’s new tar sands mines are bad for our environment, economy and democracy.

“The Harper government seems to believe that what is good for Shell is good for the country. But Canada is not an oil company.” says the report’s author, Keith Stewart.

The report details how Shell has encouraged Prime Minister Harper’s ambition to transform Canada into an ‘energy superpower’ by rapidly expanding tar sands exports. Confidential documents obtained by Stewart also confirm that Royal Dutch Shell has colluded with the Canadian government to undermine environmental legislation in both Europe and North America.

Despite their public messages about reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Stewart shows that Shell has largely abandoned its investments in renewable energy. Instead, the company is aggressively pursuing approval for two huge new tar sands mines and the pipelines required to get that oil to market.

“Shell talks a good game on environmental issues, but if you follow the money it’s all about the tar sands,” said Stewart. “Shell has also been a key player in the Harper government’s Oil Sands Advocacy Strategy, which aims to weaken environmental laws and intimidate organizations who disagree.”

Harper’s tar sands-based strategy only makes financial sense Stewart writes, if the world takes little or no action on climate change, resulting in catastrophic levels of warming. His report includes warnings from the Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development, Deutsche Bank and Alberta Premier’s Council on Economic Strategy on the dangers of gambling the nation’s economic future on high-carbon oil from the tar sands. 

“Canada is developing a full-blown case of the ‘resource curse’, far worse than simple Dutch disease, where governments put what is good for oil companies ahead of what is good for the nation,” says Stewart. “If the Premiers go along with Harper’s plan, then Canada will miss out on the green energy revolution that is our best hope for a prosperous future.”


Read the report