Ethical Oil: Greenwashing Canada´s Oil Sands?

“Ethical oil” is a relatively recent label used by oil producing countries and companies in order to appeal to the conscientious consumer. In this article Carlos Rosado examines the claims Canada makes for why oil extracted from their soil is more “ethical” than elsewhere. He finds that such claims are part of a greenwashing, an “evolving political discourse in which Canada is increasingly abdicating its international responsibilities in favour of the short term benefits which unsustainable resource extractions affords the state.”

Illustration: Luis Carlos Rosado van der Gracht.

Canada has long enjoyed the image of a democratic, prosperous and internationally responsible nation. International perceptions of Canada as a “northern gentle giant” are likely due (at least in part) to its relative military and economic inconsequence when compared to its larger and more aggressive southern neighbour. Although Canada has traditionally had a mixed record regarding environmental management, over the past several decades there has existed a sense that Canada is one of “the good guys” and that despite its shortcomings it remains environmentally progressive and committed to addressing global environmental issues such as ocean acidification and climate change. Continue reading