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A heavy hauler trucks transports in the oilsands in Fort McMurray Alta.JASON FRANSON/The Canadian Press

Canada’s oil and gas sector is actively undermining efforts to bolster the country’s climate policies, despite the industry’s own net-zero targets and messaging around its green credentials, claims a new analysis from a London-based climate think tank.

The report by InfluenceMap, released on Thursday, analyzed climate-related public messaging in areas such as corporate reports, advertising and social media. It focused on the country’s six largest companies: Cenovus Energy Inc. CVE-T, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. CNQ-T, Imperial Oil Ltd. IMO-T, and TC Energy Corp. TRP-T, as well as the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, an industry lobby group.

Despite the sector’s net-zero commitments, the industry “remains strategically opposed to science-based policy to deliver net-zero targets in line with limiting warming to 1.5 degrees C,” the analysis found.

It found that the sector has pushed back on climate policy and supports the expansion of – and continued subsidies for – the industry. That position contradicts calls from both the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and International Energy Agency, which say the rapid phaseout of fossil fuels is needed to meet net-zero climate goals.

InfluenceMap director Ed Collins acknowledged that most economic sectors advocate for subsidies, expansion and indeed their continued viability, but argued the key difference for oil and gas is a “systemic and existential risk to the planet” posed by the outsized impact it has on climate change.

“When engagement and attempts to influence policy diverge massively from what the science says is needed to maintain a safe climate, then I think it’s arguably a special case where that really shouldn’t be happening,” he said in an interview.

The report also highlights the growing role of the Pathways Alliance, a group of six oil sands producers committed to reaching net-zero production by 2050. It found that while Pathways advocacy emphasizes the sector’s commitments to reducing emissions from oil sands production operations, it also promotes the overall role of Canadian oil in the global energy mix and advocates against regulation to drive down the sector’s emission in the nearer term.

But Pathways counters that its advertising campaign acknowledges the oil sands are a significant source of Canadian greenhouse gas emissions, and that the sector must work collaboratively with governments to help the country meet its climate targets.

Pathways vice-president Mark Cameron said in a statement that the coalition’s level of commitment and collaboration to help support Canada’s climate goals is unprecedented.

“We strongly support the Government of Canada’s net-zero commitments and we are advancing a concrete plan for significant absolute emissions reductions by 2030. We have not opposed an emissions cap – but have emphasized it must have realistic targets and timelines.”

Companies in the alliance have pledged billions of dollars in investment to reduce their emissions, including research on green technologies, pilot projects that use injections of solvents to reduce the amount of steam needed to extract oil, and studies on the use of small modular nuclear reactors to provide power.

The group is also pursuing a massive carbon sequestration project, at the heart of which is a 400-kilometre pipeline to transport CO2 from more than 20 oil sands facilities to a storage hub near Cold Lake, Alta.

Pathways says the $16.5-billion project will reduce net emissions by 10 to 12 million tonnes per year by 2030. On Wednesday the group announced it had awarded a $10-million contract to global engineering company Wood to develop detailed plans for the pipeline to support a regulatory application for the project later this year.

InfluenceMap analyst and report author Sofia Basheer told The Globe that despite companies’ stated emission-reduction targets, “the amount of advocacy they are taking the opposite direction was revealing.”

Industry opposition to emission-reduction policies in other countries is common in other analyses she has conducted, but she said the Canadian sector is unique in that, unlike global giants Shell or BP, companies here “keep talking about oil as something that could be there for long term.”

“They say that fossil fuels are needed for the long-term and they tend to advocate for policies to reduce the emissions intensity of oil production, rather than a complete trace-out of fossil fuels as what science tells us what we need to do,” she said.

Mr. Collins said InfluenceMap is pushing for corporate reform in the energy sector. He added that the report will be used by various stakeholders, including investors, to push for stronger action on emissions reduction.