Physicians challenge Pathways Alliance greenwashing campaign

Toronto/Traditional, Unceded Territory of the Huron-Wendat, the Anishnaabeg, Haudenosaunee, Chippewas and the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation | March 16, 2023 – Physicians from the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) have signed onto a Greenpeace Canada-led complaint to the Competition Bureau about misleading advertising by the Pathways Alliance “Let’s clear the air” advertising campaign. The campaign claims that the Alliance is “helping Canada achieve its climate change goals.”

“Clean air is essential to good health,” says co-signatory Dr. Samantha Green, President-Elect of CAPE and a family physician in downtown Toronto. “These companies are preying on consumers’ desire for a healthy, environmentally-friendly choice when we know they are doing little that will actually result in cleaner air.” 

The six Pathways Alliance companies, Canadian Natural Resources Limited, Cenovus Energy, ConocoPhillips Canada, Imperial Oil, MEG Energy, and Suncor Energy operate 95% of Canada’s oil sands production. The complaint alleges that Pathways Alliance claims to reduce oil sands to net zero by 2050 are false and misleading because more than 80% of their emissions are unaccounted for – those associated with the ultimate burning of the fuels they produce. The plan further bets on costly and as yet undeveloped carbon capture and storage technologies. Even then, their plan does not add up to zero. Oil sands production is three to four times more greenhouse gas intensive than conventional crude oil.

“These companies are putting ads in the Super Bowl claiming to be climate leaders while lobbying against climate action behind closed doors,” says co-signatory Dr. Joe Vipond, Past President of CAPE and an emergency room physician in Calgary, AB. “It’s deeply disturbing that in 2023 they are trying to paint themselves as responsible while expanding drilling in the oil sands when the science is clear that net zero means fossil fuel production must wind down now. Imperial’s recent failure to immediately communicate about and seek to address a massive toxic tailings leak in northern Alberta tells us everything we need to know about their care for people and the planet.”

The Greenpeace complaint follows a complaint submitted by CAPE about the Canadian Gas Association’s $10M “Fuelling Canada” advertising campaign which is currently under investigation by the Bureau. According to Fossil Fuel Ads Make Us Sick Campaign Director, Leah Temper, “with this campaign, Pathways alliance are blowing hot air along with their massive emissions. This type of blatant greenwashing by Canada´s biggest polluters is dangerous and threatens our health and the future of our planet. We call on the Canadian government to protect the public from this type of fossil fuel disinformation and false net zero claims.”

The Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) is a physician-directed non-profit organization working to secure human health by protecting the planet. Since its founding in 1993, CAPE’s work has achieved substantial policy victories in collaboration with many partners in the environmental and health movements. From coast to coast to coast, the organization operates throughout the country with regional committees active in most provinces and all territories. 

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Notes to media:

Media backgrounder on the Greenpeace complaint

Full complaint

Media Contact:

Leah Temper
Fossil Fuel Ads Make Us Sick Campaign Director
Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment

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