Alberta energy ‘war room’ launches Times Square ad, expert questions campaign

Alberta’s Canadian Power Centre has launched an advert marketing campaign in Occasions Sq. to advertise the nation’s oil and fuel trade in the US. 

The initiative from the province’s so-called vitality “war room” is spending $240,000 to push Canada’s sector as the answer to “cleaner energy and lower gas prices,” in accordance with its web site. 

The centre operates as a personal company, created by the United Conservative Get together authorities, to advertise Alberta vitality. It has been beleaguered with branding and messaging issues since its launch.

“We’re right here next door. And we’re cleaner. We’re closer and we’re committed to net zero. So turn your eyes our way,” CEO Tom Olsen informed CBC Information. 

“We think we should meet the demand for energy that the United States needs over and above what they produce domestically. And frankly, for the rest of the world.”

The video billboards in New York Metropolis characteristic maple leaves pouring from a fuel pump nozzle with the caption “Choose Friendly Oil.” About 96 per cent of Canada’s oil and fuel exports go to the U.S., in accordance with Pure Assets Canada.

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And the centre is asking Individuals to jot down to the Joe Biden administration urging the U.S. authorities to lean on cleaner Canadian vitality as a substitute of requesting extra manufacturing from Russia and OPEC nations like Saudi Arabia — as surging U.S. fuel costs just lately reached a seven-year excessive. 

However one skilled says it is disingenuous to name the Canadian trade clear. 

“You can read their statement of saying oilsands have gotten cleaner, but the oilsands barrels themselves relative to a global average are still pretty emissions intensive. So there’s not really a good way to reconcile what they’re saying at Times Square with what we know from the data,” mentioned Andrew Leach, an vitality and environmental economist on the College of Alberta. 

“All of our data says that the average Canadian barrel is getting more emissions intensive.”

Canada’s emissions have elevated by greater than 21 per cent between 1990 and 2019, largely pushed by oil and fuel extraction, in accordance with the federal authorities. Whereas GHG (greenhouse fuel) emissions per barrel from the oilsands have fallen 36 per cent since 2000, Alberta’s emissions of carbon dioxide equal elevated by 61 per cent between 1990 and 2019.

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“I would pit Canada’s industry against Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Russia any day of the week,” Olsen mentioned.

Leach says that assertion ignores world comparisons. 

“It’s pretty hard to argue that the average Canadian barrel has gotten cleaner over time. Even though some of the oilsands barrels, in general, have gotten a little bit better, just by the fact that they’re becoming more and more of our overall picture, our overall picture is getting worse.”

A money-maker and a internet zero pledge

The nation’s 5 greatest oilsands producers have vowed to mix forces, cash and know-how to cut back emissions in one of the carbon-intensive jurisdictions on the planet. The alliance contains Canadian Pure Assets, Cenovus Power, Imperial Oil, MEG Power and Suncor Power, which collectively function 90 per cent of the nation’s oilsands manufacturing.

In the meantime, Canada’s second largest pension plan, Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec, has introduced it is going to divest from oil and fuel, shedding $3.9 billion in manufacturing belongings by the tip of 2022. 

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Power accounted for greater than 10 per cent of Canada’s nominal GDP in 2019, in accordance with Pure Assets Canada. Oil, pure fuel and petroleum merchandise stay Canada’s high export by worth, at greater than $112.6 billion in 2019, per trade statistics. 

Canada has dedicated to reaching internet zero emissions by 2050. The just lately re-elected Liberal Get together ran on a pledge to kill federal subsidies for the oil and fuel sector by 2023. 

The advert marketing campaign is operating two billboards in Occasions Sq. for a month, one other alongside New York’s Grand Central Parkway for 2 weeks and three outdoors the sports activities area in Washington, D.C., for 2 weeks. The vitality centre will measure success via web site hits, media tales and the variety of advocacy letters despatched, Olsen mentioned, however he didn’t present a particular goal quantity. 

“The audience for these ads isn’t in Times Square. The audience for these ads is in Edmonton and Calgary,” Leach mentioned. 

The battle room operates with a $12-million finances, decreased from $30 million throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.