Imperial Oil, MEG, Cenovus ramp up opposition to Trudeau’s carbon plan

Target to cut energy sector emissions 42 per cent by 2030 is a step too far, executives say

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Some of Canada’s top oil executives are ramping up their opposition to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s goal of cutting emissions from the energy sector by 42 per cent by 2030.

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Brad Corson, chief executive officer of Imperial Oil Ltd., told analysts Friday the target is “very aggressive” and “stretches the capability of what is technically and economically feasible.” Imperial is a Calgary-based integrated oil producer that’s controlled by ExxonMobil Corp.

“What I think, collectively as industry, government, society, we need to be very cautious about is ensuring that we bring the right balance to environmental improvements with continued oil supply,” Corson said. The company shares the government’s objective of getting to net-zero emissions by 2050, he added.

Trudeau’s government issued the target in March and followed it with a discussion paper on a potential emissions cap on the energy sector. The latter could be implemented through a tougher carbon-price policy or a cap-and-trade system that allows higher-emitting companies to buy credits from lower-emitting ones.

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The 42 per cent objective is larger than the Canadian oil industry’s own proposal to cut emissions by 30 per cent by the end of the decade — a plan that relies heavily on carbon-capture technology to reduce pollution from the oilsands, which has a higher carbon footprint than many other forms of crude extraction.

“We have a plan and we think it’s one of the few plans out there,” MEG Energy Corp. CEO Derek Evans told analysts. “It’s ambitious at 30 per cent. I don’t know how we get to 42 per cent. I think that personally, in my humble opinion, is almost unrealistic.”

The government said that with profits soaring, oil companies have the money to invest in technology.

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“Our emissions reduction plan looks at every sector and every region to help reduce our emissions, in a way that is affordable and creates new economic opportunities,” Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault said in an…

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