Resource Works is a research and advocacy organization aiming to promote the value of “responsible resource development in British Columbia.” 10 It produces reports, news commentaries and videos promoting various forms of resource development in Canada.
As it works to bolster the fossil fuel industry’s reputation as a vital part of BC’s economy while sidelining its impacts on the climate, Resource Works makes our list as a major legitimator.
Head office: Vancouver, British Columbia
Resource Works was launched in 2014 by the Business Council of British Columbia as part of its BC Agenda for Shared Prosperity. It serves as an outreach and media organization, complementing the Agenda’s goals of promoting resource development in the province.
While Resource Works’ funding is not fully disclosed to the public, its known sponsors and partners include corporate-oriented think tanks like the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, industry associations like the Council of Forest Industries, and other corporate advocacy organizations including its founder, the Business Council of BC.1
Resource Works was initially launched by the Business Council of BC and has the Council’s CEO on its board, but most board members are lower-level corporate managers and former politicians (such as Geoff Plant). Resource Works’ founder and executive director, Stewart Muir, is a former editor at the Vancouver Sun.
Resource Works’ stated mandate is “to create a badly needed middle-ground conversation about natural resources in British Columbia.” It suggests that this conversation should emphasize resource extraction as the core of the province’s prosperity, but that “a responsible approach to environmental sustainability is necessary.”2 While the organization is presented as a grassroots citizens initiative, it is created and led by pro-business elites. Through various reports, news commentaries, videos and media shareables, Resource Works produces pro-industry material and content for corporate media, and it broadcasts a pro-fossil-fuel-development agenda to public audiences through social media advocacy and other campaigns.
Resource Works has produced a spate of commentaries on liquefied natural gas (LNG), including its 2015 Citizens’ Guide to LNG. The report almost exclusively emphasizes the positive impacts of LNG exports, positioning natural gas as a clean fuel that will act as a “bridge” in the transition to non-fossil-fuel energy sources.3 This argument disregards scientific research finding that the fracked natural gas slated for use in BC’s nascent LNG terminals may have a similar climate impact to coal.4 Other recent reports and commentaries centre on the coming “energy transition.” The transition from fossil fuels to renewables is presented as an important but very distant goal. A global economy run on renewables, the organization pronounces, will not be seen “any time soon, probably not in our lifetimes, but sometime late this century or early next”5—a position that is incompatible with the scientific consensus on climate change and the need for rapid action. In this manner, Resource Works engages in an insidious form of climate denialism6—claiming to take climate change seriously while actively delaying or obstructing meaningful action.
Social media advocacy includes shareable infographics and Facebook and Twitter posts pointing to the fossil fuel industry as an indispensable facet of Canada’s economy, while also claiming current oil and gas development is environmentally responsible.7 Research by Corporate Mapping Project investigators found that Resource Works is among the most active industry-oriented advocacy organizations on social media.8 In 2016 its Facebook group posted 1,232 times, although those posts generated relatively little attention, based on numbers of Facebook likes, shares and comments.
Resource Works is also a leader in sponsoring on-the-ground resource industry promotional efforts, such as the Natural Runners team in the 2015 Vancouver Sun Run.9 In this campaign, four nearly naked young men ran in the race with the message “without natural resources we’d be naked” stencilled on their chests, effectively linking material security to continued fossil fuel production and consumption. Through these various efforts, the organization’s work supports the fossil fuel industry’s attempts to win the hearts and minds of the BC public.
Learn more about Resource Works at LittleSis.org
The intent of the Corporate Mapping Project database is to engage Canadians in a conversation about the role of the fossil fuel sector in our democracy, by “mapping” how power and influence play out in the oil, gas and coal industries of BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan.