When Jane Fonda Protests Oil Sands…
When Jane Fonda travels to northern Alberta in the middle of January, she’s doing it to make headlines. The longtime actress became the latest celebrity in a long line of Hollywood activists to tour the oil sands and visit Fort McMurray this week. She selectively toured oil sands facilities in a helicopter and later held a press conference in Edmonton along with local indigenous leaders.
Well, unlike fellow Hollywood star, Leonardo Dicaprio, Fonda did not link common warm mountain winds (Chinooks) to global warming. But she did go on to make what Alberta Premier Rachel Notley would later call ‘ill-informed generalizations.’
As Rick McConnell of CBC News writes, when asked about the impact of Alberta’s much debated climate change plan, Fonda was not impressed, saying “the little piddling things” that Canadian politicians have committed to do, such as phasing out coal or land reclamation, are only small steps that don’t add up to much.
“At least they’re trying to turn some things back to what they were, part way,” she said. “[But] if you put together all these little things that they’re doing, it doesn’t add up to much in the face to what new drilling and extraction of the tarsands, or the North Dakota pipeline, or any of the new infrastructure that’s being planned here and in the United States would do in terms of emissions. There’s no equivalency at all.”
Notley Not a Fan
Alberta’s minister of economic development and trade, Deron Bilous, said the government tried to reach out to Fonda to share information about the province’s commitment to responsible energy development.
“We offered her and her team a briefing as far as the initiatives the government of Alberta is undertaking with our climate leadership strategy and our plan,” he said. “Frankly, they accepted this briefing and didn’t show up. I can tell you that their facts, unfortunately, are outdated.”
During another press conference later in the day, Premier Notley said Fonda is ill-informed and doesn’t deserve the attention she’s getting.
“I would suggest if someone was going to come to Alberta … [and] fly over a city that is going through a significant economic downturn, that’s just been through the largest natural disaster in the history of Canada, and then lecture them about where they should get jobs elsewhere, first of all, that’s super tone deaf.”
Still Time to Change
Cody Battershill, a Calgarian and longstanding promoter of Canada’s responsible energy development, wrote in a Huffington Post article that it still isn’t too late for Fonda to use her celebrity to help spread the truth about the oil sands.
Battershill writes that “Fonda — more than the typical self-centred Hollywood activists like (Darryl) Hannah and DiCaprio — has had some time to understand the world. I’m thinking she might even recognize that no single technology will provide the energy required to power society — but that a combination of existing technologies may be needed while technology continues to make advances.”
The Huffington Post article includes links to many facts about Canadian oil sands development. As Battershill put it:
“Albertans know that since 1990, Canadian oil sands producers have reduced per barrel GHG emissions by an average of 30 per cent — and some have achieved reductions as high as half.
Albertans also understand the oil sands contribute only 0.15 per cent of global GHG emissions, and just 1.6 per cent of all of Canada’s emissions. And we’re aware that 13 oil fields in California have higher upstream GHGs than our oil sands do. Fact is, there’s at least six countries that produce oil with higher emissions than Canada.”
Why Pick on Canada?
Speculation grows within Canada about why foreign activists continue to point their environmentalist fingers at Canadian development while other oil producing countries, including the United States, are free to increase production and exports without criticism.
Last he Financial Post published research linking US-funding to anti-oil activists in Canada. The implication is that foreign players seek to weaken their competition by squeezing Canada out of the global energy market.
One can’t help but wonder if Jane Fonda realises her oil sands protests could actually be doing Big Oil a big favour in other countries.