What do Suncor, Encana, the Royal Bank of Canada, the Fraser Institute and 46 other companies and organizations have in common?
They are among the entities that make up the most influential fossil fuel industry players in Canada. Today, the Corporate Mapping Project (CMP) is drawing attention to these powerful corporations and organizations with the release of its Fossil-Power Top 50 listing, along with a publicly accessible database of the larger Canadian fossil fuel industry that maps its connections to the wider corporate sector in Canada and globally.
“The fossil fuel industry—whose economic interests are served by continued expansion of oil and gas production—is the biggest obstacle to real action on climate change today,” says Bill Carroll, CMP Co-Director and a professor of Sociology at the University of Victoria.
The online Fossil-Power Top 50 listing contains in-depth information and profiles of the most influential emitters, enablers and legitimators of Canada’s fossil fuel industry.
- Emitters—are corporations based in Western Canada directly involved in extracting, processing and transporting oil, gas and coal. Examples include Imperial Oil, Cenovus Energy, Enbridge and Teck Resources.
- Enablers—are organizations that enable fossil fuel production such as banks and industry-friendly regulators, including Canada’s big five banks, the National Energy Board and the BC Oil and Gas Commission.
- Legitimators—are organizations that persuade the public or political elites that business as usual must continue and that an urgent shift away from dependence on fossil fuels is unfeasible or unnecessary. These include industry associations like the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, think tanks, lobby groups, business councils, pro-oil advocacy groups like Resource Works and even institutions like the University of Calgary.
The full CMP database includes 200 Canada-based extractive corporations with assets over $50 million (as of 2015), along with several smaller companies that play a central role within a provincial jurisdiction or sub-sector of the industry. The database also maps the industry’s connections to the larger corporate sector in Canada and globally.
The CMP’s extensive research over the past four years has systematically tracked and documented how the fossil fuel industry is knit together through interlocking directorates and other relationships. (Interlocking directorates refers to executives and directors that sit on each other’s boards, linking companies into a connected network).
“Our research reveals a tightly knit, local network of Canada-based fossil fuel firms linked into the broader national and global power structure primarily through the largest oil and gas corporations and financial institutions. We have also documented a pervasive pattern of fossil fuel sector reach into politics and civil society,” says Zoë Yunker, a researcher who has worked with the project since 2015.
The CMP partnered with LittleSis.org to develop and host its database. LittleSis is a grassroots watchdog group that connects the dots between the world’s most powerful people and organizations. Using its mapping tool, LittleSis brings transparency to influential social networks by tracking the key relationships between corporations, business leaders, politicians, lobbyists, financiers and their affiliated institutions. Examples of network maps using the CMP data can be seen in each of the Fossil-Power Top 50 profiles like Suncor, the Royal Bank of Canada and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP).
“This publicly accessible database is a resource for anyone who wants to investigate and monitor corporate power. It allows us to see the network of fossil fuel industry influence, track the close connections between this industry and other economic sectors and uncover the links between powerful corporations, governments and advocacy groups that support them,” says Carroll.
Source: The Corporate Mapping Project is jointly led by the University of Victoria, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (BC & Saskatchewan offices) and the Parkland Institute. This research was supported by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).