Alberta Oil Magazine’s National Survey of Energy Literacy, Public Trust and Confidence highlights that the vast majority of Canadians do not trust the companies in this industry, the government or the journalists reporting on fossil fuels. The only group that’s trusted are academics.
It’s not surprising that Canadians lack confidence in the business of oil and gas. The sector has struggled to credibly highlight the better aspects of its work and has failed to downplay what’s bad about fracking, dirty oil, etc. Additionally, the federal government has politicized oil and gas, making it easy for anyone who disagrees with Stephen Harper to be suspicious of initiatives such as the Keystone Pipeline.
During an interview on CBC Radio’s The 180, Max Fawcett, editor of Alberta Oil, said that the industry needs to do a better job telling its story. I’d add that they also need to do a better, more environmentally-friendly job of managing and producing their product. As it stands, there’s arguably a lot of truth to the criticisms about the negative impact of extracting, processing and shipping hydrocarbons.
So until the industry’s leaders determine how best to honestly reconcile the challenges inherent to the sector, their feel-good ads will seem hollow. Until they find a way to balance the good with the bad and allow their actions to speak more loudly than their words, the energy sector will continue to be seen as a necessary evil with a bad rep.
Relying on credible actions instead of hard-to-believe words is easier said than done for some. But if the sector is in fact getting better at what it does, and given its many economic benefits, it should have a compelling story to share that over time might increase public trust and confidence.