Canadian oil sands companies reported an unprecedented $34.7 billion in profits in 2022, more than double the $15.1 billion they made in 2021 (see table below). In the midst of a climate and cost-of-living crisis, they are using the windfall profits from publicly-owned resources to boost dividends and share prices rather than investing in jobs or climate solutions.
Here are five reasons we should tax back those windfall profits:
- To help you deal with the rising cost of living. For every dollar spent on higher prices in the last two years, 25 cents went to profits in mining and oil and gas extraction. Their profits are causing the pain in your pocketbook, so it’s time they gave back.
- To invest in climate solutions that eliminate our reliance on expensive, climate-wrecking fossil fuels. The oil companies sure aren’t going to do this. They’re handing money back to share holders even as oil sands GHGs hit record levels in 2021 (the 2022 numbers aren’t in yet). Their greenwashing initiative (the Pathways Alliance) is almost certainly spending more on advertising and lobbying for government subsidies than the measly $10 million (0.03% of their 2022 profits) they’ve allocated for engineering work. Seriously, those Pathways ads are everywhere.*
- Europe is doing it. The UK, Spain, Italy and the EU have already announced their plans for Windfall Taxes on fossil fuel profits to bring immediate relief to people struggling with soaring costs.
- The companies didn’t invent or innovate their way to these super-profits. Oil companies are simply profiting from higher oil and gas prices sparked by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. War profiteering is immoral, which is why it was banned during World War II.
- Oil companies should pay for climate harms. The oil industry has known about the harms their product causes for decades, but has misled the public about the science and continues to lobby against climate measures. It’s only fair that they pay their fair share to clean up the mess, including through the new loss and damages fund established by the UN to assist small island states and other vulnerable countries threatened by climate change.
The Pathways Alliance for Net Zero was established by six oil sands companies representing 95% of oil sands production. ConocoPhillips is not represented in the table below because it doesn’t report its oil sands or Canadian profits separately, and oil sands represents only 6% of its global oil production.
|Canadian oil sands company profits 2022 (millions of CAD)|
* According to the Meta ad library, the Pathways Alliance had spent $542,923 on Facebook and Instagram ads between October 19, 2021 and March 1, 2023. Pathways also has an extensive TV, radio and print advertising campaign.