Ecology Ottawa delegates to Finance and Corporates Services on Fossil Fuel Promotion

Ecology Ottawa delegated at City Council’s Finance and Corporate Services Committee on March 5 as the Committee reviewed its Corporate Sponsorship and Advertising policy. We called on the Committee to prohibit fossil fuel advertising and sponsorship in City facilities in this policy. You can watch the full delegation here. (For our letter to Mayor Sutcliffe on this issue, see here.)

Councillor Shawn Menard (Capital Ward) presented a motion to the Committee that asked staff to review the Sponsorship and Advertising policy with regard to fossil fuel promotion in light of the City’s policies, values, and commitments. After almost 20 delegations asking for a ban on fossil-fuel promotion in City facilities, the Committee passed this motion. It now goes to Council for a vote on April 3.

As for next steps, staff will investigate the possibilities of this ban and report back to the Committee in Q3 of this year. To keep up on this issue, please subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on social media (@EcologyOttawa).

fossil fuel ads delegation screenshot


Below is the text of Ecology Ottawa's delegation to City Council’s Finance and Corporate Services Committee

Thank you for the opportunity to address you today on behalf of Ecology Ottawa.

I’ll speak about examples of the advertisements that we think the City’s corporate sponsorship and advertising policy should prohibit, and then about how permitting such advertisement directly contradicts City Council’s values and commitments.

The first is an ad at Brewer Arena from an organization called Canada Action. It reads, “Canadian oil and natural gas is part of the solution.” The URL they provide, “,” strongly implies it’s climate change. 

We know, however, that fossil fuels are very much the problem—which is why Council’s Energy Evolution strategy calls for a full phase-out of fossil fuels by 2050. In fact, they are the primary human cause of climate change, according to the EPA. How, then, can fossil fuels be the solution?

Here are a couple other ads. Another one from the same group reads, “Canadian LNG [liquified natural gas] exports will reduce global emissions.” We know very well that they won’t. What the industry calls “natural gas” is predominantly methane, which traps heat in the atmosphere 20 times more than carbon dioxide.

Another ad cynically states that “Global oil and natural gas demand is growing,” implying that we should get in on this demand. In fact, this is exactly what another ad calls for: “As long as the world needs oil and natural gas, shouldn’t it be Canadian?” 

These ads are urging our complicity, even our cooperation with our planet's trajectory toward climate disaster. And yet these are currently displayed to Ottawans, including the many children who enjoy these facilities and are forming their opinions. 

I also want to mention how these ads seem to run against the City’s own sponsorship and advertising policy. This policy reads,

“All sponsorships and advertising shall be consistent with the City of Ottawa’s vision, mission and values and will not compromise or contradict any by-law or policy of the City, or reflect negatively on the City’s public image.”

“The City will not solicit or accept sponsorship or advertising from companies whose reputation could prove detrimental to the City’s public image and/or whose main business is derived from…the support of, or involvement in the production, distribution, and sale of…life-threatening products.”

Accepting advertising money from fossil fuel promoters certainly reflects negatively on the City’s public image; and fossil fuels products put the City’s assets at risk and threaten lives.

In the words of the Supreme Court of Canada: “Climate change is an existential challenge. It is a threat of the highest order to the country, and indeed to the world.”

And we in Ottawa know how climate change is life-threatening.

Last year, we—and particularly our children, and those with respiratory difficulties—struggled under smoke from wildfires exacerbated by climate change. We also experienced three tornadoes. One in Barrhaven damaged 125 homes. The derecho the previous year cost the City $50 million, and it also cost a family their father and husband.

I think you’ll agree that the $6,000 of annual revenue that fossil fuel ads generate for the City don’t compare to this destruction.

The City has an opportunity to live up to its vision, mission, and values that the policy refers to, by ending fossil fuel ads in City facilities, as it did in 2005 to prohibit smoking advertisements.

Continuing to permit fossil-fuel promotion would seem to contradict the City’s own approach on climate.

Thus, permitting fossil-fuel promotion in fact is inconsistent “with the City of Ottawa’s vision, mission and values” and does “compromise or contradict [a] by-law or policy of the City.”

Fossil fuel promotion has no place in our city, and we urge you to end it in your revision of the City’s Corporate Sponsorship and Advertising policies. This is an opportunity for the City to show leadership and live up to its values and commitments.

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