A 'nice gesture,' or more?
Environmental reactions ranged from skeptical to angry. The pact is a "nice gesture" but comes at a time when the government won't force emissions reductions on the sector, said Gillian McEachern of Environmental Defence.
An analyst at Greenpeace Canada slammed the agreement as a way for industry to target lawmakers in the United States and Europe. In addition to the debate about Keystone XL, Europe is weighing whether to label oil sands fuels as 22 percent more carbon-intensive than traditional types.
"In the absence of any commitments to real reductions in pollution with penalties for not meeting them, this is simply another example of 'greenwash,' where an industry association makes vague promises to clean up its act in order to avoid regulations with real teeth," said Keith Stewart, climate and energy campaigner at Greenpeace Canada.
Green groups say that the oil sands singlehandedly threaten to undo Canada's climate targets to reduce emissions 17 percent by 2020. Greenhouse gas emissions are growing faster than any other sector in Canada and are likely to double annually by 2020, according to the Pembina Institute, an environmental think tank.
The announcement comes on the heels of a major initiative by the Albertan and Canadian governments to increase monitoring stations measuring how oil sands operations are placing pollutants in waterways, increasing emissions and altering wildlife patterns (ClimateWire, Feb. 6).
In addition to Royal Dutch Shell, Cenovus Energy and ConocoPhillips, the other participating companies are BP Canada Energy Co., Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., Devon Canada, Imperial Oil, Nexen Inc., Statoil ASA, Suncor Energy Inc., Teck Resources Ltd. and Total E&P.
Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net, 202-628-6500