In 2021, a group of big Canadian oil companies joined forces, calling themselves the Pathways Alliance. This group includes Canadian Natural Resources Limited, Cenovus Energy, ConocoPhillips Canada, Imperial, MEG Energy, and Suncor Energy. Together, they control a whopping 95% of Canada’s oil sands production and about 63% of Canada’s total oil production and they have collectively booked a record profit of over $35 billion in 2022. On the surface, they claim to be on a mission to help fight climate change, aiming for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and assisting Canada in meeting its climate goals. Sounds great, right? But when we take a closer look, we find some concerning issues that show the real impact the Pathways Alliance and its members are having on our climate. 

A greenwashing effort?: what they say vs. what they do

Pathways companies ran a far-reaching ad campaign that claimed they were “making clear strides toward net zero”, while continuing to expand their fossil fuel production. In 2022, five of the six companies collectively produced a record average 3.2  million barrels of crude oil per day. Last year’s record production level is expected to be surpassed this year. Future oil sands production is projected to grow to as much as 3.7 million barrels daily  by the next decade. 

The Pathways Alliance justifies their fossil fuel expansion by saying they will invest billions of dollars in carbon capture and storage, despite this technology being unproven at scale.

Why is carbon capture and storage not a solution? 

 Although capturing carbon dioxide emissions from industrial processes and storing them underground might sound like a way to keep them out of the atmosphere, in practice there are real problems.

Carbon capture and storage technology (CCS) is expensive and doesn’t deliver the emissions reductions we need. Additionally, CCS doesn’t deal with the core issue: most of the emissions from fossil fuels are emitted when they are burnt or “consumed” – CCS doesn’t change that as it can only be put in place at extraction or very large industrial sites.   Moreover, the storage of carbon presents the risks of leaks which could have devastating effects on the plants and animals and the surrounding communities such as land degradation and water pollution.

Producing more fossil fuels: A big problem

The Pathways Alliance is setting all-time records for fossil fuel production, and increasing production means increasing emissions. What’s noteworthy is that combustion is responsible for over 80% of emissions and Pathways blatantly ignores emissions from combustion in their “net-zero” strategy. This goes directly against their claim of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. At least four of the Pathways companies (Suncor, CNRL, Cenovus, and Imperial) as well as their lobby group, CAPP, have been opposing emissions regulations and advocating for fossil fuel expansion and subsidies.

Misleading ads: the plot thickens

Not only is Pathways polluting heavily, but it’s also running misleading ads to influence government regulations and sway public opinion in favor of oil sands development. 

This problematic greenwashing campaign has reached a lot of people in Canada. Pathways Alliance has spent vast amounts running television ads during the FIFA World Cup, the Australian Open and the 2023 Super Bowl, and they have been one of the biggest advertisers on Facebook and Instagram. Can you believe that Pathways Alliance invested  $325,025 from October 2022 to January 2023 just in ads on Meta? 

The Pathways Alliance is producing more fossil fuels than ever, relying on costly and questionable technology, and spending massively on misleading advertising, which is why we filed a complaint with the Competition Bureau.

As we face the urgent global crisis of climate change, we need real solutions, not just words. It’s crucial that we hold organizations like the Pathways Alliance accountable for their actions and the harm they are causing today and tomorrow.

Sign the petition and help us make Pathways Alliance pay for the disasters they are fuelling