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Investor Expectations for Improving Environmental & Social Performance in Canadian Oil Sands Development

A group of 49 investors with $2 trillion in assets under management are calling on Canadian oil sands developers to dramatically reduce the environmental and social impact of their operations.

A group of 49 investors with $2 trillion in assets under management are calling on Canadian oil sands developers to dramatically reduce the environmental and social impact of their operations by lowering greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, managing water use, promoting land reclamation and consulting fully with First Nations and other communities affected by oil sands projects. The investors argued that these performance improvements “should be prioritized ahead of unmitigated growth ambitions for oil sands development.”

Oil sands development is significantly more resource-intensive than traditional oil development, creating environmental and social concerns that investors argue may threaten the sector’s long-term viability and growth.

In their statement, investors specifically called on Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA) to:

  • Set goals and timelines for reducing the greenhouse gas intensity of oil sands production to at least that of conventional oil production, while also providing greater disclosure on research and development efforts and supporting provincial and federal regulations that would lead to significant reductions in GHG emissions.
  • Manage water risk by setting goals and timelines for minimizing net surface and groundwater withdrawals, and keeping withdrawals within science-based ecosystem limits.
  • Reduce the rate of land disturbance and increase reclamation, provide disclosure of liabilities, establish wetlands and biodiversity offsets and accept limits to the amount of land available to oil sands development at any given time.
  • In cooperation with government authorities, fully incorporate the principle of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent in their responsibilities to First Nations, Metis, Inuit and other communities affected by oil sands operations.

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