Recently we learned that the Competition Bureau is going to investigate several climate change denier groups that have publicly misrepresented climate science on billboards and the web. This is great news for those who want an honest conversation about climate change.
Last December we helped six prominent Canadians apply for this investigation, arguing the denier groups have violated the Competition Act by making materially false or misleading representations about climate science for the purpose of promoting business interests, such as fossil fuel development. Then we asked you to support us by writing to the Commissioner of Competition. Many of you did -- and it worked!
So, why would denier groups continue to misrepresent climate science when the overwhelming majority of credible climate science supports the reality of human-caused global warming? One likely motive is to protect fossil fuel business interests from cleaner, greener competition.
And wouldn't you know it, just last week one of the denier groups highlighted in the application -- Friends of Science -- was revealed to be a creditor of now-bankrupt Peabody Energy. Once the world's largest private coal company, Peabody's bankruptcy has shed light on the funding it provided to a network of climate denier groups.
Overall it looks like the bottom is falling out of the climate science denial movement -- and not a moment too soon.
This comes as a coalition of U.S. states deepen their investigations into whether ExxonMobil defrauded investors through its notorious, decades-long misrepresentations of climate science. Sadly, we now know this saga has a Canadian connection. As far back as 1980 Imperial Oil, Exxon's Canadian subsidiary, concluded in a report "[t]here is no doubt that increases in fossil fuel usage ... are aggravating the potential problem of increased CO2 in the atmosphere."
Meanwhile, even fossil fuel companies that have changed their tune publically on climate science are still denying that science in court. Syncrude, Canada's largest tar sands operator, recently argued before the Federal Court of Appeal that "the production and consumption of petroleum fuels is not inherently dangerous." Syncrude asked the court to rule that the federal government has no constitutional authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions using market mechanisms. This would have been devastating for national efforts to meet our Paris Agreement climate goals. Thankfully the court rejected Syncrude's argument and dismissed its appeal.
What makes Syncrude's position so galling is that its controlling shareholder, Suncor Energy, publically promotes its acceptance of the scientific consensus on climate change and claims to be "developing long-term, sustainable solutions" to the problem. Kneecapping the federal government's ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions is no "solution" for Canada.
Overall it looks like the bottom is falling out of the climate science denial movement -- and not a moment too soon. With temperature records piling up monthly the need to act on climate change couldn't be more urgent.
We're happy the Competition Bureau has taken the first step toward accountability for those who would misrepresent climate science to promote business interests. If the investigation uncovers evidence showing contraventions of the Competition Act it could lead to legal proceedings.
In the meantime, let's keep moving Canada forward on climate change.
This piece was written by Ecojustice lawyer Charles Hatt. As Canada's only national environmental law charity, Ecojustice is building the case for a better earth. Learn more at ecojustice.ca, or subscribe to receive updates from us via email.
Follow HuffPost Canada Blogs on Facebook
ALSO ON HUFFPOST:
The 22-year-old from Lincolnshire is tudying for an MSc in Sustainable Cities at King's College London. "It felt right to shift from the humanities to geography after I realised climate change and being green had become my most passionate cause," she says. "I'm an active member of the KCL Environment Society and the Fossil Free group, campaigning for green innovation across King's and particularly for their divestment from fossil fuels." "In my spare time I'm leading a small garden project on campus, collaborating with Trees for Cities and Science Gallery London. The aim is to encourage students to interact more with their green spaces by planting fruit, herbs, vegetables and flowers that everyone can pick, smell and enjoy. So far I've got lots of mint growing, which the Student Union will use for mojitos. Once spring arrives I'll plant lots more."
The 26-year-old is studying a PhD at Reading University, focusing on ice shelf collapse. "Ice shelf collapse is important as it can lead to habitat loss for creatures such as penguins, changes in the ocean, and sea level rise through the speed up of glaciers that used to flow onto the ice shelf," she says. "I was motivated to do this through learning about climate change during my undergraduate. I think it’s important that scientists communicate their work to the public in order that the facts about topics such as climate change are known. I blog about what I do and try to simplify some polar/climate news stories here. "I also am co-president of the UK Polar Network, a group of early career scientists who, among other things, help to send young scientists into schools to talk about polar science and run climate change activities with students."
The 28-year-old studied atmospheric physics (climate science, basically) at Oxford and now makes videos to explain key climate issues. "Although I realised during my studies there's some amazing climate research going on, the biggest problem seemed to be the gap between scientific understanding and public perception of climate change. So I decided to do something about it! "I wanted to make videos that we're engaging, playful and accessible, and so I embraced the YouTuber style of storytelling. I was hoping the videos would be fun enough that people would enjoy them regardless of whether they cared about climate change or not - so I could trick them into learning!"
Aged 19, the Dutch inventor, entrepreneur and aerospace engineering student has a remarkable vision for cleaning oceans that have been decimated by human waste. Inspired by fishing trawlers, Slat devised a way to recover waste that has been sent out to sea with huge nets. "I don't really view my age as a disadvantage to get these things done. Simply I've thought about how to tackle the problem and I've worked for a number of years to bring it closer to reality," he says Slat, who is founder and president of the Ocean Cleanup Foundation. "The Internet really made this project possible... You can do an awful lot of things with a limited amount of resources." Read more about his project here
After graduating with a degree in Architecture, Arthur Kay took an unusual career turn and decided to start a biofuel business. Recycling used coffee grounds which would otherwise go straight to a landfill, biobean turns them into biomass pellets that can be used to heat houses. "At the heart of my work is a desire to combine the practical with the aesthetic, the functional with the idealistic, and to meet the challenges of a modern world in an innovative way," he says. Read more about his project here
The three architecture students have come up with a design for a tidal barrage which could power up to 200,000 homes in Liverpool with green electricity. "We wanted to design something that supported the natural progression of Liverpool and the surrounding area," Thomas explains. "We all have an invested interest in Liverpool. "The ultimate aim was to provide a barrage which would act as a unifying destination promoting a healthy, holistic strategy to support the sustainable progression of Liverpool and the Wirral." Read more about their project here.
Follow Ecojustice on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@ecojustice_ca