‘Still Digging’ report highlights Export Development Canada financing of fossil fuels and the climate crisis

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Last year Colombian human rights defenders from CCALCP and CREDHOS raised concerns with Export Development Canada officials in Ottawa about the fracking pilot projects expected to begin in Colombia next year.

On May 27, Oil Change International and Friends of the Earth U.S. released a new report: Still Digging: G20 Governments Continue to Finance the Climate Crisis.

The 45-page report studies the financing of the climate crisis by development finance institutions (DFIs), export credit agencies (ECAs), and multilateral development banks (MDBs) in G20 countries (including Canada).

It found that since the Paris Agreement (that was negotiated in December 2015 and that came into effect in November 2016), G20 countries have acted directly counter to it by providing at least USD $77 billion a year in finance for oil, gas, and coal projects through their public finance institutions.

The report further highlights that Export Development Canada (EDC) is the sole contributor to Canada’s second place ranking for public finance for fossil fuels.

EDC is rare among export credit agencies in that it supports Canadian companies for their domestic projects (including on Indigenous territories without free, prior and informed consent) as well as the companies’ international projects.

The EDC in Colombia

In November 2018, the Above Ground report Bringing Accountability and Transparency to Export Development Canada’s Practices noted: “Frontera (formerly Pacific E&P) received an EDC loan in 2014 for its oil operations in Colombia. The following year its operations at one oilfield were suspended by Colombia’s Constitutional Court, which found that the company had violated the rights of an indigenous community.”

In June 2019, Gustavo Galvis, a Chief Representative for Export Development Canada in Bogota, wrote about “key opportunities for Canadians” in Colombia.

He highlighted: “At one point, Canada was one of the largest investors in [the oil and gas] sector in Colombia. One of the reasons is because there’s a lot of similarities between the Alberta foothills and the Colombian geography. Canadian operators feel comfortable with the industry and today, some of the most important companies in exploration and production in Colombia are Canadian.”

And in August 2019, Claudio Ramirez, the senior trade commissioner for Global Affairs Canada in Bogota, wrote in an Export Development Canada article about the “increased activity across many sectors” in Colombia including oil and gas.

Ramirez highlighted: “Colombian resources are depleting fast, so there’s a push to increase exploration through the auction of new blocks. Technologies related to oil recovery and mature fields are much sought after, as well as in the development of unconventional resources, like fracking and deep-water exploration.”

In November 2019, Peace Brigades International and Amnesty International coordinated a visit by Julia Figueroa and Andrea Nocove from the legal collective CCALCP and Ivan Madero from the human rights organization CREDHOS to raise concerns about fracking in Colombia with EDC representatives at a meeting in Ottawa.

EDC in Honduras

In May 2014, CEHPRODEC (which is accompanied by PBI-Honduras) contributed to the report The Impact of Canadian Mining in Latin America and Canada’s Responsibility that was submitted to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

That report noted: “The political and economic support Canada gives Canadian companies (through mechanisms such as Export Development Canada (EDC), the Investment Board of the Canadian Pension Plan, and the Canadian International Development Agency) is provided without adequate controls to prevent the violation of human rights in the countries where the companies that receive these benefits operate.”

Peace Brigades International-Canada continues to follow the issue of Export Development Canada financing on Indigenous territories in Canada and in countries where PBI accompanies at-risk human rights defenders in Latin America.

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