The University of Victoria has announced the research project behind the Fossil-Power Top 50 list. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

UVic announces list of top 50 players in fossil fuel industry

The university funded the research behind the Fossil-Power Top 50 list; critics call it hypocrisy

On Wednesday, the University of Victoria announced the launch of a project that lists the top 50 institutions and companies based in Western Canada with a stake in the fossil fuel industry.

The Corporate Mapping Project (CMP) open-source database was announced near the end of 2015. The Fossil-Power Top 50 list was compiled over the past four years through extensive research into the Canadian corporations with the greatest emissions footprint.

READ ALSO: Global boom in natural gas is undermining climate change action: report

The CMP’s Fossil-Power Top 50 list was published along with a database that demonstrates the connections between the Canadian fossil fuel industry as a whole and the Canadian and global corporations.

“The CMP allows us to investigate and monitor how corporate power is organized and exercised, in and around the fossil fuel sector,” William Carroll said in a statement.

Caroll co-directed the CMP and teaches sociology at UVic. He feels that the fossil fuel industry is the main hindrance to the fight against climate change because the industry is “served by continued expansion of oil and gas production.”

The list is detailed and puts the top 50 players into categories so that viewers understand how each company or organization participates in the industry.

“Emitters” such as Enbridge and Imperial Oil are the corporations that are involved in the procuring and transporting of oil, gas and coal.

READ ALSO: Fossil fuels drive Canada’s position in the global energy market

“Enablers” are the group that aids fossil fuel production. Five of Canada’s biggest banks have made the list.

“Legitimators” are those who are pro-oil and seek to convince the public that the fossil fuel industry should continue to operate as it has. The University of Calgary is among the group that has been classified as legitimators.

CMP also coordinates the Mapping the Power of the Carbon-Extractive Corporate Resource Sector project. UVic, the Parkland Institute and the B.C. and Saskatchewan offices of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives are partners in this six-year research initiative.

Juliet Watts, spokesperson for Divest UVic — a student group advocating for UVic’s divestment from fossil fuels — said the organization finds the university’s support for this research hypocritical.

“Their Endowment Fund invests $39 million in the fossil fuel industry, including holding investments in nine of the Fossil-Power Top 50 groups,” said Watts, Divest UVic organizer and Director of Campaigns at the UVic Student Society.

READ ALSO: Lack of pipelines costing Canada billions: study

Watts pointed out Divest UVic is excited about the CMP research and know it will be a good resource, as “ending the social legitimacy of the fossil fuel industry” is important to the UVic community. However, the organization isn’t pleased that the university promotes sustainability while participating in the fossil fuel industry, Watts explained.

“Like similar funds that are listed on the Fossil-Power Top 50 as enablers, the UVic Endowment Fund claims to integrate environmental, social and governance factors into its investment decisions, while failing to place any binding requirements for environmental consideration in investment,” said Watts.

Divest UVic feels that current and past students and faculty need to hold the institution accountable.

To view the Fossil-Power Top 50 list, visit the CMP website.


@devonscarlett
devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

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