As Earth Warms, Hell Freezes Over. Oil Sands Bigwig Declares “Climate Change is Real”

May 24, 2015

Audio above from News Talk 770, Calgary, Alberta.

If the Oil barons are worried, should you be worried, too? Suncor is a huge player in the development of the planet killing Alberta Tar Sands project.  Steve Williams is the President and CEO. Williams has now joined Royal Dutch Shell CEO Ben Van Beurden, and British Petroleum CEO Bob Dudley, in acknowledging the seriousness of the climate issue, and calling for a carbon price.

Ok, guys, now how about messaging some key politicians and captive media outlets to adjust their behavior accordingly?l? Just a suggestion.

Suncor – Wikipedia:

Suncor is the world’s largest producer of bitumen, and owns and operates an oil sands upgrading plant near Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada. Originally developed by Great Canadian Oil Sands, a majority-owned subsidiary of Sun Oil, it is now wholly owned by the independent Suncor. It was the first commercial development on the Athabasca oil sands, although small, earlier projects like that at Bitumount also played a role in development. The company holds a 36.75% interest in the Joslyn north oil sands project which was shelved pending an economic review by operator Total S.A. in May 2014. The company also produces conventional oilheavy crude oil, and natural gas.[12]

CHQR – News Talk 770 Calgary:

An energy industry heavyweight told a Friday morning Calgary forum on climate change a healthy environment is key to a health economy–and vice versa. Suncor President and CEO Steve Williams says even though we don’t have all the answers, the time for action is now, noting “climate change is happening. Doing nothing is not an option.” Western Financial Group chair and former provincial treasurer Jim Dinning told the forum “we need to put a real price on carbon and emissions so every single one of us pays a price.”  Dinning says so far political leaders haven’t had the courage to say “we’re in this together.” Judy Fairburn with Cenovus says industry can do better. “We know we can be more green and competitive.” She said it’s a balancing act to avoid stalling development, but it will be good for “business, homes and citizens.” Amin Asadollahi, Oilsands Program Director, Pembina Institute urges Alberta to diversify into renewable energy.  “Alberta has enormous wind, solar and geothermal potential.” “I don’t think we should let perfect be the enemy of the good,” Justin Smith with the Calgary Chamber of Commerce told the crowd when asked about the “right price” for carbon taxes.  “So I dunno what the exact price should be now, but if we don’t do anything for five years, I can guarantee the effective price then will be a lot higher.” Chris Ragan with Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission, the organization which organized the event, says “don’t rush anything”, as it would be bad to get it all wrong.

30 Responses to “As Earth Warms, Hell Freezes Over. Oil Sands Bigwig Declares “Climate Change is Real””

  1. Sir Charles Says:

    Strange move. A tar sands CEO calling for a price on carbon emissions. I mean, tar sand is one of the worst fossil fuels also with a very bad carbon footprint. I wouldn’t expect the coal industry coming out with such a strong statement. What is behind this suddenly appearing hedge?

    • dumboldguy Says:

      I too said to myself “strange move” when I saw the headline, but reading the quotes shows that it’s just more “surfing the wave” by the FF interests.

      It’s getting harder to outright deny what’s happening, so it’s time to put some lipstick on that flying pig and say “see how pretty?”. Make nice-sounding noises, do the minimum required and do it slowly, all while making lots of $$$ and laughing on the way to the bank.

  2. redskylite Says:

    Great speech from a deeply concerned CEO who reminds me of Fred Wedlock or Adge Cutler .. must be scared of the ticks…

    http://www.ctvnews.ca/health/changing-climate-brings-ticks-lyme-disease-into-canada-1.2387044

  3. fjohnx Says:

    The smarter players realize that costs will be internalized, Shell claims to include a $40 carbon price in its policy decisions, so it makes sense to get ahead of events to manage the process.

    yours
    Frank Johnston

  4. Gingerbaker Says:

    Or maybe it means that a carbon price really does very little, or nothing, to actually build the new energy systems that need to be in place so we can stop using fossil fuels?

    I mean, if we truly want to build new energy farms, why don’t we simply build them? Or subsidize them? Or at least ask why our government isn’t building them?

    Nah…. why actually solve the problem when we can just keep talking about the vague benefits of a carbon tax for another two decades?

  5. ubrew12 Says:

    A top down solution to CC would shut Alberta down. Just shut down, immediately and completely. That’s a ‘no brainer’. So, considering the alternative (which becomes more likely the longer we delay action on CC), its little wonder this CEO is calling for an egalitarian ‘lets ALL share the pain’ carbon tax.

  6. MorinMoss Says:

    I don’t get this. Unless he thinks that we can develop reliable carbon sequestration, how does this help his company? Or any oil company?

    More & more, it seems that the world has to get down to net zero long before 2050 and even if we put ourselves on the track to only 1/2 that goal, it still means a dramatic reduction in oil production.

    In 1999, the world consumed 75 billion barrels compared to about 90 billion today.
    The dramatic crash of 2009 saw a drop of 2 billion barrels for just one year.

    If by 2025, we roll back to 1990 levels, that still means 64 billion barrels / yr.

    We’re fighting at cross purposes – the faster we (begin to) reduce CO2 emissions, the more we need the coal & oil companies to die – but they won’t go quietly.

    And we’ll need other employment for all those workers so I don’t think North America can leave all the solar panel & wind turbine production to the Danes & Chinese.

  7. jajoslinjajoslin Says:

    Ms. Fairburn’s remark is telling.

    Using the old cliche , ‘ balancing act ‘ to describe what needs to be done to save the entire planet & all that live upon it … is still crucially ill-informed at this late hour.

    But , then again , nobody has ever claimed that oil industry execs , squadrons of hired flacks, or even the sainted investors kneeling before their sacred tar pits take a particular interest in what the rest of us think of as the big picture.

    ‘It’s not my job ( to think much ) …’ is the phrase that comes to mind , here.


  8. Part of the reason for this reaction may be the recent election of a new government in Alberta. The Progressive Conservative Party was defeated (actually in 3rd place at the end of the election was you count the seats) and was replaced by the New Democratic Party (a traditionally left-wing party but with a view of financial reality) after 44 years of the PC’s being in power. The NDP, under Premier Rachel Notley, will likely have a better environmental stance and already have indicated that promoting pipelines (event the Keystone XL) are not high on the list of priorities for spending. See more information (among other places) at http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2015/05/07/ndps-win-brings-end-of-era-in-pipeline-politics-in-alberta.html . We can hope – although there has certainly been both surprise and negativity to the results of the Alberta election.

    • MorinMoss Says:

      So Canada’s socialist party has taken most of the federal seats in Quebec and now is the provincial majority in the oil patch?

      I think a certain Conservative Prime Minister must be quite nervous since there will be a national election this October.

  9. Gingerbaker Says:

    Why should an oil executive be afraid of saying “Go ahead – put a carbon price into effect”? People have been talking about such things for two decades. To no avail.

    We are still no closer to having a carbon price. And, more importantly, no closer to building and deploying the green energy farms that a carbon price is supposed to magically produce.

    => And until we actually deploy those farms, everybody is still going to be buying gasoline. And, unless that green electricity is a LOT cheaper than a fossil fuel, nobody is going to stop using fossil fuels, either.

    Cart before horse, folks.


  10. This is a PR exercise. In Alberta they have a wildly convoluted variable oil royalty. With the drop in the world price of oil royalties have essentially dropped to next to nothing in Alberta. Any money oil companies might have to pay in carbon taxes in Alberta will effectively be subtracted from oil royalties they pay.

    This obviously can only go so far. If royalties are already zero then additional carbon taxes will be felt by the oil companies. This is why the second part of Suncor’s statement is important. They insist that everyone must be included in the carbon tax not just the oil sector.

    In a province that can’t even stomach a sales tax imagine how an effective carbon tax would go over for the general population. So Suncor is relying on the people of Alberta to prevent a carbon tax from being set high enough to have any impact.

    To me Suncor’s statement is more proof that a carbon tax without a hard emissions cap that decreases annually will fail.


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