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Whatever happened to Canada’s review of non-tax fossil fuel subsidies? A letter to the environment minister

pollutionCanada has pledged to end inefficient fossil fuel subsidies by 2025. In 2017, after the Auditor General found that the government had yet to identify which support measures would qualify as inefficient subsidies, Environment and Climate Change Canada launched a review of federal non-tax measures that benefit fossil fuel companies.

Support provided to fossil fuel companies by Export Development Canada (EDC) was included in the review, which was slated to be complete by the spring of 2018. EDC provides roughly $10 billion in support to the oil and gas sector every year. This outweighs by far the other forms of federal support routinely included in estimates of Canada’s fossil fuel subsidies, which add up to roughly $1.6 billion a year according to a 2015 report from the International Institute for Sustainable Development.

In this letter we ask Canada’s environment minister to clarify whether the review is still ongoing, when it will be complete, and whether the full results — including its determination of whether EDC support is an inefficient fossil fuel subsidy — will be made public.

Honourable Catherine McKenna, M.P.
Minister of Environment and Climate Change
Environment and Climate Change Canada
200 Sacré-Coeur Boulevard, Gatineau, QC K1A 0H3

November 27, 2018

Dear Minister McKenna,

Last year Above Ground encouraged Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) to include in its review of Canada’s non-tax fossil fuel subsidies all forms of support provided to oil and gas companies by Export Development Canada (EDC). We were pleased to learn from the then minister of trade that EDC has been included in the review. While the expected completion date for the review was spring 2018, we understand that it is ongoing.

When will ECCC complete its review of federal non-tax fossil fuel subsidies? Will the full results of the review, including all results related to EDC, be made public?

G20 members will meet in Argentina later this week to report on their progress towards phasing out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies. EDC support for the fossil fuel industry is inconsistent with Canada’s G20 pledge to phase out inefficient fossil fuels by 2025. Last year alone EDC provided over $10.4 billion in support to oil and gas companies. The agency has made no commitment to remove fossil fuels from its business portfolio.

Minister McKenna, we look forward to your reply.


Karen Hamilton
Program Officer
Above Ground

c.c. Honourable Jim Car, Minister of International Trade Diversification
Michael Ferguson, Auditor General of Canada

February 2019 update:

We received a response from Minister McKenna that “Canada is working to identify and review non-tax measures that support fossil fuel production and use.” Unfortunately Minister McKenna does not respond to the questions posed in our November 2018 letter regarding the completion date for the review and the publication of results.