Alberta Energy ‘War Room’ Launches Times Square Ad and Expert Questions Campaign


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Alberta’s Canadian Energy Center launched an advertising campaign in Times Square to promote the country’s oil and gas industry in the United States.

Province’s so-called energy “war room” initiative spends $ 240,000 to make Canadian sector the solution for “cleaner energy and lower gas prices,” according to website .

The center operates as a private corporation, created by the United Conservative Party government, to promote Alberta energy. It has struggled with branding and messaging issues since its launch.

“We’re right next door. And we’re cleaner. We’re closer and we’re committed to net zero. So look at us,” CEO Tom Olsen told CBC News.

“We believe we need to meet the demand for energy that the United States needs in addition to what it produces locally. And frankly, for the rest of the world.”

Video billboards in New York City feature maple leaves dripping from a gasoline pump nozzle with the caption “Choose a friendly oil.” About 96 percent of Canadian oil and gas exports go to the United States, according to Natural Resources Canada.

And the center is asking Americans to write administration Joe Biden to urge the US government to rely on cleaner Canadian energy instead of asking for more production from Russia and OPEC countries like the United States. Saudi Arabia – as the surge in US gas prices recently hit a seven-year high.

But one expert says it’s fallacious to call the Canadian industry clean.

“You can read their statement that the tar sands have gotten cleaner, but the oil sands barrels themselves relative to the world average are still pretty emissions intensive. So there’s no real good way to go. reconcile what they say in Times Square with what we know from the data, ”said Andrew Leach, energy and environmental economist at the University of Alberta.

“All of our data indicates that the average Canadian barrel is becoming increasingly emissions intensive.”

Canada’s emissions increased by more than 21% between 1990 and 2019, largely due to oil and gas extraction, according to the federal government. While per barrel GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions from the oil sands have declined 36% since 2000, Alberta’s carbon dioxide equivalent emissions have increased 61% between 1990 and 2019.

“I would pit Canadian industry against Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and Russia any day of the week,” Olsen said.

Leach says the assertion ignores overall comparisons.

“It’s pretty hard to say that the average Canadian barrel has gotten cleaner over time. Even though some of the oil sands barrels, in general, have improved a bit, just as they increasingly become our image, our overall image is getting worse. “

A money maker and a net zero commitment

The country’s five largest oil sands producers have pledged to join forces, money and technology to reduce emissions in one of the most carbon-emitting jurisdictions in the world. The alliance includes Canadian Natural Resources, Cenovus Energy, Imperial Oil, MEG Energy and Suncor Energy, which together exploit 90 percent of the country’s oil sands production.

Meanwhile, the second largest pension plan in Canada, Quebec deposit and placement fund, announced it would divest itself from oil and gas, losing $ 3.9 billion in productive assets by the end of 2022.

Energy represented more than 10% of Canada’s nominal GDP in 2019, according to Natural Resources Canada. Oil, natural gas and petroleum products remain Canada’s top export by value, with more than $ 112.6 billion in 2019, according to industry statistics.

Canada has pledged to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. The recently re-elected Liberal Party pledged to eliminate federal subsidies for the oil and gas sector by 2023.

The ad campaign runs two billboards in Times Square for one month, one along Grand Central Parkway in New York City for two weeks, and three outside the sports arena in Washington, DC, for two weeks. The Energy Center will measure success through website visits, media articles and the number of advocacy letters sent, Olsen said, but did not provide a specific target number.

“The audience for these ads is not in Times Square. The audience for these ads is in Edmonton and Calgary,” Leach said.

The War Room operates on a budget of $ 12 million, up from $ 30 million during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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