Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel has been vocal in his criticism about Canada’s exploitation of the Alberta tar sands in recent weeks, but has found a fierce retaliation from a prominent political leader.
Vettel will be seen driving with a helmet that says ‘Stop mining tar sands’ as well as ‘Canada’s climate crime’.
While Vettel has often spoken about his desire to do something positive for the environment, minister of energy for Alberta Sonya Savage sees a lot of irony in this.
To give a bit of a background, the tar sands in Alberta, near the race venue, are mined for their oil reserves.
The environment has naturally been compromised in the area and much of its wildlife is now endangered. Even communities have had to contend with displacement.
Savage roasts Vettel
It goes without saying that Savage is a supporter of the oil pipeline construction in the area and she ridiculed Vettel in a string of social media posts.
“I have seen a lot of hypocrisy over the years, but this one takes the cake,” Savage said.
“A race car driver sponsored by Aston Martin, with financing from Saudi Aramco, complaining about the oil sands.
“Saudi Aramco has the largest daily oil production of all companies in the world. It is reputed to be the single largest contributor to global carbon emissions, of any company, since 1965.
“Rather than demonising the oil sands, which is on a path to net-zero, people could look to lowering their own personal carbon footprint. Perhaps a pedal-car for Formula 1?”
What did Vettel say?
During Friday’s press conference, Vettel spoke about how a ‘crime’ is being committed.
“I find this – fascinating might be the wrong word – but there’s a lot going on. We live in a time and age where we are so much aware of a lot of things.
“I think what happens in Alberta is a crime because you chop down a lot of trees and you basically destroy the place just to extract oil and the manner of doing it with the tar sands mining, oil sands mining is horrible for nature.
“Obviously Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions have gone up since they started doing it. The site has only been, as far as I read, found like 20 years ago.
“The prime minister said that no other country would find these resources and not pick them up; I think in principle every country and every person has their opinions and their stance. My personal opinion is I disagree.”
Vettel fights for awareness
For Vettel, it is pivotal that people are more conscious about the environment.
“There’s so much science around the topic that fossil fuels are going to end. Living in a time that we do now these things shouldn’t be allowed anymore and they shouldn’t happen,” he said.
“So it’s just in principle to raise awareness of what’s going on in the first place. I think a lot of people in Canada, a lot of people around the world don’t know about it.”
“It’s just to think about future generations and the world we leave in their hands once they’re old enough to carry on to take care of it.
“I think it’s only fair to to look after it and not destroy it.”