Last week, leading environmental organizations and allies sent a letter to Canadian Geographic in support of the campaign
launched by high school students taking on the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and Canadian Geographic's Energy IQ project.
Dear Canadian Geographic,
We are sending this letter as representatives of organizations concerned with your Energy IQ project, particularly by your partnership with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.
While we support the stated goal of Energy IQ to “increase energy literacy in Canada”, this is something that cannot happen in a vacuum. The decisions made about Canada’s energy future in the coming years will have a profound effect on youth and and future generations - the target of this project. We believe that true energy literacy requires understanding the impacts of energy production, transport and consumption in Canada, something which Energy IQ currently fails at.
As Canada’s largest fossil fuel lobby group, CAPP refers to itself as “the voice of Canada's upstream oil, oil sands and natural gas industry”. Over the past three years they have been involved in lobbying to reduce Canada’s climate ambition, having publicly opposed and worked to get Canada to abandon the Kyoto Protocol. They worked to ensure that changes to Canada’s environmental regulations would pave the way for more fossil fuel development, and just recently were found to be pushing the Alberta government to weaken their own climate regulations.
The body of peer reviewed work from scientists, economists, Non-Government Organizations and governments on the social, political, economic and environmental impacts of climate change is massive. Yet fundamental materials, like the most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, are almost completely ignored by Energy IQ.
Climate change is the greatest omission from the project, but it is by no means the only one. Energy IQ fails to address the current and historical impacts of energy development on First Nations. The absence of basic information and history about this, especially at this moment in history, guarantees that this project cannot deliver a full understanding of energy literacy.
Energy IQ also fails to present a full picture on the economics of energy in Canada. While important to Canada’s economy, according to Statistics Canada, while important to Canada's economy, the tar sands make up less than 2% of Canada's GDP (the energy sector accounts for less than 10% of GDP). Claims, as CAPP makes and the Energy IQ project echoes of it being the primary economic driver of the country are grossly overstated. At the same time, Canadians and Canadian institutions remain heavily invested in the fossil fuel industry, something that groups like HSBC and Standard & Poor have warned could be a bad financial bet. According to HSBC, global action on climate change could drive the market value in some of CAPP’s clients, like Shell, down by 60%. Another reality left out of your energy IQ project.
While the Energy IQ project does present facts, only telling some of the facts is still presenting a bias. The unfortunate reality is that by associating yourself with CAPP, you have reinforced a biased view that downplays and ignores facts about climate change, First Nations rights, community impacts and economics that challenge their vision for fossil fuel expansion in Canada.
The World Bank, International Energy Agency (IEA), IPCC and others have all agreed that at least 60-80% of the world’s fossil fuel reserves need to stay underground in order for us to have a decent global shot at hitting the globally agreed upon 2C target for maximum warming. The corporations behind CAPP have a business model based on ignoring this, so much so that according to the IEA, the tar sands are already on track to grow at least 3 times they can under that same scenario.
As an educational non-profit you have a responsibility to students to present a full picture, no matter who is funding the project. Right now you are failing that responsibility, and presenting a dangerous vision of Canada’s energy future to the generation that will inherit it. We are calling on you to respect students and make the necessary changes to this project, starting with cutting off ties with with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers,
The Canadian Youth Climate Coalition
Council of Canadians
Environmental Defense Canada
Sierra Youth Coalition
Bringing Youth Towards Equality
Canadian Federation of Students
Canadian Voice of Women for Peace
Friends of the Earth Canada
RAVEN (Respecting Aboriginal Values & Environmental Needs)
Toronto Climate Campaign
Many of us would also be happy to work with you to develop this project further. We already have a resource that was developed by a group of science-based environmental groups and First Nations. It includes full citations for all claims and was reviewed in it’s entirety by a respected scientific advisory committee. You can find it atwww.oilsandsrealitycheck.org