New Yorker Advertisement Promoting Tarsands

The Government of Canada has taken out a lovely looking, full-page advertisement inside the back cover of the latest New Yorker magazine. The advertisement, a wide river snaking through steep forested slopes almost looks like an advertisement for Canada's tourism industry.

The sun is rolling across the thick forest canopy creating a vision of greenness. Gorgeous.

Then you read the large header text.

"American and Canada have the same greenhouse gas reduction targets."


"America's best energy partner."

Ah, that's where this is going.

The advertisement continues to expound the virtues of the Alberta tarsands industry.

"Canada and America are committed to the same 17 per cent greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2020. Canada's oilsands operate in one of the world's most stringent regulatory environments, and as a major supplier of crude oil to Gulf Coast refineries, Canada continues to use innovation and technology to reduce emissions. Canadian pipelines are the environmentally responsible choice to meet America's oil energy needs."

One problem. Canada is not going to meet its 2020 targets. Many would argue Stephen Harper's governing Conservative Party has no intention of doing so.

Like previous advertisements promoting the Keystone XL pipeline, paid for by Canadian taxpayers, the facts are not being allowed to get in the way of a good story.

However, even the Government of Canada's own report on climate change targets (press release and video) has said it would be putting out more, not less greenhouse gases by 2020.

"Canada’s GHG emissions will be 7.4 percent above the 2005 level instead of 17 percent below, which indicates that the 2020 target will not be met with existing measures."

And with regard to the assertion that Canada has "one of the world's most stringent regulatory environments", the same Report of the Commissioner from the Environment and Sustainable Development said:

"As of February 2012, only one of the sectors, the transportation sector, was under regulation for GHG emissions. No regulations were in place for the oil and gas sector, the second-largest emitter of GHG. Because regulations are complex, and can take up to five years to develop and result in GHG reductions, it is unlikely that the regulatory approach will contribute emission reductions that are sufficient to meet the 2020 target."

In short, the New Yorker advertisement is, as they say, being economical with the truth.