It has been officially announced that the Tory-run farce of a climate change institute, the Canada School of Energy and Environment, has officially replaced the disgraced Tory insider and convicted fraudster Bruce Carson with someone even closer to the energy industry, Rick Hyndman. Around the same time, Carson’s chair at the head of another related government think tank, Carbon Management Canada, was filled by a Suncor executive named Gordon Lambert. It appears that those in charge of the institutes are taking advantage of our distraction with the election campaign to complete the oil industry’s takeover of the government clean energy program.
The Edmonton Journal, which reported the new announcement (CSEE’s website doesn’t show it yet), mentions only that Hyndman is a former deputy minister at Alberta Energy. That’s probably true. However, he just came off of 12 years as a policy analyst for the oil industry lobby group, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP). That’s six times as long, and a decade more recently, than his stint as a deputy minister. And his time at Alberta Energy, according to his bio, was focused on deregulation. So it’s definitely worth asking how exactly the University of Calgary decided that this guy was qualified to lead a school supposedly doing scientific research into clean energy, which Carson explicitly turned into a school doing government-industry policy coordination.
On a related subject, one of my commentors recently asked whether we knew where the Tory School’s federal seed money went. As a matter of fact, we do, although it takes more work than the media has been willing to put into it as of yet, so far as I can tell. The money was a $15 million grant, given in 2008 to set up the school and fund annual rounds of grants for “Proof of Principle” projects. These were initially billed as far-reaching “transformative change” projects which industry wouldn’t see as short-term enough to be worth funding — sort of a DARPA for the environment, if you will. Now, the priorities have switched to “industry engagement and student involvement.”
In practice, probably around half of the money gets used up in internal funding to projects and centres at the Tory School’s three host institutions — the University of Calgary, the University of Alberta, and Lethbridge University. Some more goes to public policy projects, like a discussion series the institute organized with the oil sector lobby group, CAPP, that Hyndman works for, and with Hill & Knowlton. (H&K is a PR company itself, so presumably was funneling through more money from the energy industry.)
The rest goes to Proof of Principle projects, but these are dominated by the same institutions. In the first three rounds of funding (the only ones published in annual reports so far), all 26 grants went to these institutions. Since 2008, here are some of the Proof of Principle projects that have received funding:
- alcohol fuel cell technology
- use of forests as bio-energy reserves
- optimizing steam injection in the tar sands
- displacement ventilation systems
- tracing nitrogen and sulphur emissions from the tarsands
- home energy use monitoring systems
More money was given to the new Carbon Management Canada than to the Tory School of Energy, and Carson headed up both institutions. In my next post in the Carson series, I’ll take a look at CMC.Tweet