The origin story of Stand.earth—previously ForestEthics, successor to Clayoquot Rainforest Coalition—illustrates how little has changed in recent decades. NGOs and concerned citizens are ever the underdogs when competing with governments and wealthy corporations in the fight to protect ancient forests.
The Internet’s Wayback Machine provides the organization’s early history. These excerpts refer to events on the west coast of Vancouver Island during the time Mike Harcourt led an NDP government:
…the thirst for timber had not been quenched, and the chainsaws and grapple yarders were stripping the verdant mountain sides up and down British Columbia’s coast.
The Friends of Clayoquot strained to fight the logging, but they could not keep up or carry on the blockades forever. The fight to protect the legendary coast required more people, but help was on its way.
A massive protest erupted during the summer of 1993 – the largest environmental protests in Canadian history. Nearly 1,000 people were arrested, including grandmothers, students, doctors and people from all walks of life. The ‘War of the Woods’ was the lead story of every news outlet day after day for three months, including in Europe and the US. The plight of the remote paradise of Clayoquot had international attention, but it wasn’t enough to stop the logging...
The coalition discovered that Clayoquot’s forests were being turned into phone books, toilet paper and two by fours. And they held the companies that made these things accountable by letting their customers know what they were doing. The customers were outraged and demanded answers – and a new way forward.
…It took four years from the first protest at a US customer’s storefront, but finally Mac Blo shut down its logging camp in Clayoquot, and instead, offered to work jointly with the local First Nations to come up with a sustainable logging solution that protected intact valleys and called for light-touch sustainable logging in others.
Today Stand.earth has a wider range of interests:
From biodiversity to air, to water quality and climate change, Stand.earth designs and implements strategies that make protecting our planet everyone’s business. Our current campaigns focus on shifting corporate behavior, breaking the human addiction to fossil fuels, and developing the leadership required to catalyze long-term change.
- Canada climate & energy
- Communities standing up to oil and gas
- Forest conservation
- Fossil-free towns and regions
- Ocean protection and shipping
- Corporate climate pollution
- Climate finance
That work led Stand.earth to release a report in June 2021. Information disclosed about subsidies will not surprise regular readers of IN-SIGHTS.
In March 2021, BC announced sectoral targets, which set 2030 climate pollution reduction targets for each sector of the economy, including a stand-alone target for the oil and gas industry.3 Our analysis of Premier Horgan’s 2021 budget reveals that increasing subsidies to the oil and gas industry will make it all but impossible to rein in carbon emissions and set BC on a path to a net-zero future in 2050.
Even as Canadian governments claim their GHG-reduction policies will wean us off fossil fuels by 2050, they award even the biggest and most profitable oil and gas companies with taxpayer-funded financial benefits. While demand-side policies such as the carbon tax are meant to decrease the production and combustion of fossil fuels, the subsidies enjoyed by Big Oil and Gas do exactly the opposite: they actually promote the production and consumption of the same dirty fuels that are warming the planet beyond all recognition.
In BC, fossil fuel subsidies include provincial tax exemptions, royalty reductions and credits, and direct investments in infrastructure and technology — and they have grown significantly since the BC NDP took over from the Liberals in 2017. Indeed, BC is second only to Alberta in the generosity of subsidies it gives to the fossil fuel industry, mostly to expand the production and export of fracked liquified natural gas (LNG), a dirty fuel source that is both an economic and a climate disaster.
A billion dollars a year is a lot of money to give to Big Oil and Gas every year, but it gets even more troubling when you consider how little it gets back in revenues. Currently, oil and gas activity produces 20 percent of BC’s emissions, but represents just 0.5 percent of jobs in the province and contributes only three percent to provincial GDP.