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Dec 17, 2018

CIBC cuts energy program after Whistler mayor irks producers

Amanda Lang: You can't pin climate change on a single company

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Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CM.TO) scrapped the energy portion of its annual investor conference in Whistler next month after requests by the resort town’s mayor for a major oil producer to help pay for the cost of climate change snowballed into a retreat by other energy firms.

CIBC’s conference has been a regular draw for companies pitching their businesses to investors in the shadow of the ski slopes of Whistler’s resort in British Columbia for more than two decades. A demand this year by mayor Jack Crompton means energy firms will be absent.

“The majority of the event will proceed," said spokeswoman Jessica Steinberg. The 22nd annual conference is scheduled from Jan. 23 to Jan. 25.

It all began with the mayor’s missive last month to Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (CNQ.TO)

“All levels of government, industry and individuals bear responsibility for solving and paying for climate impacts,” Crompton wrote in a Nov. 15 letter. “However, we suggest that your company and industry bear a larger portion of the responsibility.”

Canadian Natural Resources replied with its own letter highlighting the Canadian energy industry’s progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions intensity and its contributions to the nation’s economy.

Whistler’s own greenhouse gas emissions — once in decline — have been increasing, spiking four per cent last year, prompting a warning that the mountain community is no longer on pace to meet its 2020 target. Natural gas is the biggest culprit after vehicles — no doubt some of it burned by the outdoor fire pits and patio heaters at the slope-side restaurants that attract the thousands of tourists that support Whistler’s economy.

Despite the conference change, CIBC remains committed to the energy sector.

"The Canadian energy industry has been a global leader of responsible energy development," Roman Dubczak, head of global investment banking, said in an emailed statement. “We are committed to our clients in the energy sector as they play a key role in driving the Canadian economy."