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  • Writer's pictureFred Guerin

Meetings on the Road to the Climate Warming Apocalypse

Updated: May 31, 2020

Ever wonder why multi-billion dollar oil and gas companies pay little in the way of royalties and are subsidzed by the federal government and provinces to the tune of $3.3 billion annually?

Ever wonder why even during a pandemic, when oil demand has plummeted and the price of a barrel of oil crashed into negative figures, construction continues with the billion-dollar Coastal Gaslink pipeline in northern British Columba, Oil sands workers are declared essential and environmental monitoring requirements have been suspended for Alberta's entire energy industry?

Ever wonder how it is that Canadian Taxpayers are continually saddled with the cost of mopping up the mess left behind by oil and gas corporations who are encouraged to make like bandidts, reap huge profits and then disappear when it comes time to restore the environment they destroyed?

Ever wonder about the back-room deals that oil and gas lobbyists make and the outsized influence they have over government policy decisions even during a global pandemic?

Here's what neoliberal guru Milton Friedman said:

“Only a crisis - actual or perceived - produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes the politically inevitable.”

That quote was, no doubt, the inspiration for Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine

What Klein exposes in this ground-breaking book is how neoliberal governments use natural and man-made disasters to reengineer economies in the interests of a corporate elite. The COVID-19 pandemic perfectly qualifies as a medium for disaster capitalism.

But there is an even more obvious reason why oil and gas companies get their way with governments and environmental regulators.

Academic research found that fossil fuel interests, led by oil and gas companies and industry associations, had 11,000 meetings with the Canadian government between 2011 and 2018.11 That’s almost four meetings per day every single day of the year for almost a decade (2019 Environmental Defence Report).

Can you imagine how much further along we would be towards a green economy if the Canadian and Provinical governments had since 1970 subsidized green initiatives and technologies instead of oil and gas? Imagine that instead of 11,000 meetings with fossil fuel lobbyists the Canadian government sat down 11,000 times with leading environmental groups.

Unless we are really prepared to gather together in resistance to fossil fuel in large numbers, not much will change--and the construction of pipelines will continue even if it increases the risk of transmission of COVID-19. In a extractivist neoliberal capitalist system Indigenous peoples, as well as oil and gas workers are disposable.

Below are two recent reports Environmental Defence and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) that might give you some insight into why the oil and gas lobby has such incredible clout...

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