Inquiry confirms foreign targeting of Canadian energy
A report commissioned by the government of Alberta into foreign funding of environmental groups opposed to the province’s oil and gas industry confirmed October 21 that the industry was specifically targeted by philanthropic and special interest groups.
Between 2003 and 2019, Canadian-based environmental groups received funding totalling an estimated C$1.28bn (US$1.04bn), mostly from US-based philanthropic and environmental organisations such as The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Pew Charitable Trusts, The David and Lucille Packard Foundation and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.
Recipients of these funds included some of the highest-profile environmental groups in Canada, including The David Suzuki Foundation, Greenpeace Canada, World Wildlife Fund Canada, the Pembina Institute, the Sierra Club of British Columbia Foundation and the Sierra Club Canada Foundation.
“Albertans should be outraged at the foreign-funded campaigns that targeted our oil and gas sector in an attempt to block development,” Alberta energy minister Sonya Savage said as she released the report, authored by forensic accountant Steve Allan. “Alberta’s natural resources belong to Albertans, and decisions about their development should be made by Albertans.”
Allan found that proponents of the funding campaigns celebrated cancelled and vetoed projects and have taken credit for more than 1,000 divestments made by finance and insurance companies representing an estimated $8 trillion of investments.
Most of the funding activities specifically targeted oil sands investments and did so with limited transparency of their activities. While the oil and gas industry in Canada is highly regulated, monitored and transparent with respect to its financial reporting requirements, many of those same requirements do not apply to not-for-profits or charities, Allan found.
“We need to take the report’s findings, learn from the tactics employed and ensure that foreign funding does not target the development of the emerging energy resources, including hydrogen, carbon capture, utilisation and storage, critical and rare earth minerals, small modular reactors and LNG, which are needed to reduce emissions and diversify Alberta’s economy,” Savage said.