Suncor: Best of a Bad Lot?

A European research firm has identified Canadian tar sands giant Suncor among the world's top 19 oil and gas companies as the best performer in generating carbon reduction strategies.

Chevron, ExxonMobil and EnCana were identified as the three worst.


You guys are victims of what you, yourselves call spin and “echo chamber” .

Suncor is one of the biggest GHG emitters in Canada. They are also one of the fastest growing CO2 emitters. Yet if you read their annual reports and spins, you’d think they were the greenest company around.

This is because publications like the ones you cited use their annual reports, and studies by companies (Jantzi Research comes to mind) that also use their annual reports. 

Neither, it appears has the expertise to understand when they are being hoodwinked.  

By repeating, you carry on the echo… echo. 

Here are a couple of press releases from The Pembina Institute on Suncor’s latest expansion plans:

Suncor Fails to Demonstrate Environmental Leadership: Oil Sands Environmental Coalition asks the Alberta EUB to deny the approval of oil sands expansion

Suncor Project Should Not Go Ahead As-Is: Energy Utilities Board Must Set Tough Limits on Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Nobody said Suncor is a model of environmental sustainability. They only said that Suncor was outperforming every one of the other energy major’s. For that, Suncor deserve some recognition - not a tax holiday, or even a let-up in the pressure - but a little tip of the hat.
My question is this: if Suncor finds a way to make at least some gains on the environmental front, and still make a fortune, why does anyone tolerate the performance, the snivelling and the dissembling of Exxon? And what about EnCana?
It is, perhaps, not very high praise to be the most environmentally correct oil major. But it’s legitimate condemnation to be the worst.

With all due respect, respect…

You are missing my point.  First off, your title claims: “Suncor Takes Top Grades for Carbon Reduction Strategies”.  The report you reference does not say this. It says:

“Munich-based Oekom Research’s report analyses companies’ performance on issues such as climate change, product stewardship and relations with suppliers and other partners. “

In addition, it points out that Suncor has a structural advantage over multi-national companies in the survey:

“In Suncor’s case, it operates only in Canada and thus is not faced with the same ethical dilemmas as some companies operating in the developing world (for example, Royal Dutch Shell in Nigeria).”

and finally, having strategies in place, and actually implementing them (“walking the walk”) are two entirely different things, as the press releases from Pembina below point out.

If a company like Suncor has its CO2 output double every few years, (100% increase) yet offsets 2% through wind generation for example, it may well score higher than a company whose production goes up 10% and does nothing to reduce CO2 emissions.

Such is the trouble with this

methodology, and why it should not be repeated,as you have done,  without understanding and explaining properly the methodology and weaknesses.

This is how companies successfully greenwash. 

Point taken. In fact, a good point about a headline that was too loosely interpreted. (I have rewritten it to reflect your criticism.)

But ya know, I just get worn down by the constant barrage of bad news - by my own seemingly endless complaining - and once in a while I just want to say something good about somebody. Clearly I am going to have to be more careful in what I say and who I say it about ….

I also think that we’re cooked it we don’t find a way to make big oil part of the solution. An uphill battle, I admit, but one that would be easier with some allies in the oil patch. If Suncor is ofsetting 2% if their GHG emissions, the company DESERVES more praise than another firm that is offsetting zero, no?

You should also change the text of the original blog to correct the error.

If the intent of the 2% offset investment is to appease environmental critics or provide fodder for good news starved reporters so that they can continue to expand at exponential rates, then no, they should not be lauded, unless it is reported in context.

From Suncor’s own 2004 Climate Change Report, over the period from 2001 to 2004 , Suncor’s CO2 emissions went from 5,878,000 tonnes CO2 equivalent to 8,141,000.

This is partly what Jantzi said about their emissions in their CSR report in the 2005 ROB Magazine.

 ”SUNCOR - A world leader in investing in renewable energy. In its most recent rewable energy project, Suncor and joint-venture partners [so they shouldn’t get 100% credit] began producing electricity from an Alberta wind power project. The green energy generated is expected to save the equivalent of 82,000 tonnes of carbon-dioxide emissions per year-equivalent of taking about 12,000 vehicles off the road per year…”

12,000 cars off the road. Gee that sounds great! Except when you realize that their total emissions in 2004 are equivalent to adding 1,191,000 cars onto the road.

CONTEXT please!

Speaking of oil, Harper’s had a great column criticising the proposed drilling in the ANWR:

“More Hot Air Over the Arctic: Why Drilling in the Arctic Refuge is not the Answer

By Dean Baker”