The Disconnect Between Canada’s Climate Words & Fossil Fuel Investments

By Roy L Hales

screen-shot-2014-03-18-at-3-43-47-pmA year has passed since the World proclaimed its’ resolve to keep the average global temperature rise below 2 degrees. The Canadian government appears to be green lighting the expansion of our emissions heavy fossil fuel sector through the addition of Woodfibre LNG terminal, Pacific Northwest LNG terminal and at least one more pipeline to carry diluted bitumen to the West Coast. (Natural Resources Minister Jim Car says that the now expected U.S. approval of the Keystone XL pipeline does not change the fact Canada needs more access to Asian markets.) They are expected to approve the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, which would tripple the tanker traffic flowing past the city of Vancouver, on December 19. The hearings for an even larger project in eastern Canada, Energy East, have been temporarily on hold since the entire panel had to recluse itself because “their participation in these meetings may have created an apprehension of bias which could undermine the integrity and the credibility of the Board’s decision making process.” Despite the fact emissions from the gas and oil sectors are one of the principal contributors to our rising emissions, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna says “there is no turning back” in the fight against climate change. At the press conference following the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP22) at Marrakech, she was confronted about the  disconnect between Canada’s climate words & fossil fuel investments.

Disconnect Between Canada’s Climate Words & Fossil Fuel Investments

“The Paris agreement sent a signal to the market, it is a competitive advantage to act now and invest in a cleaner future. The global economy has shifted towards cleaner and more sustainable growth. Thousands of companies are here in Marrakech,” she said.

McKenna mentioned  oil sector giants like Suncor, Enbridge and TransCanada, as well as Goldman Sachs.

It has been eight months since Prime Minister Trudeau told a startled Vancouver audience that he intended to finance Canada’s transition to a low carbon economy by pipleines.

Canada’s Carbon Pricing

Asked about the apparent contradiction at today’s conference, McKenna said, “We are in a period of transition. We all know that and the world knows that. We’ve committed to action …. Every province must have a price on pollution by 2018.”

They “should start at a minimum of $10 per tonne in 2018 and rise by $10 a year to reach $50 per tonne in 2022.”

This encourages British Columbia, which already has a carbon tax but has not made any climate initiatives since Christy Clark came to power in 2012, to wait until the rest of Canada catches up.

On the day of the press conference, Peter McCartney of the Wilderness Committee emailed the ECOreport, “Canada puts in a toothless carbon tax that won’t change anything for 80% of Canadians for the next five years and they expect that to buy support for their pro-pipeline agenda? They’re deluded. That’s never going to happen. Claiming to be a climate leader while pushing to expand the tar sands would be laughable if it weren’t jeopardizing our future on this planet.”

Most of the criticisms at today’s conference arose from the weakness of Canada’s response to climate change.

Are We Moving Forward?

The exception came from the Wall Street Journal, “Has Canada had any though of amending or rethinking its’ plan on curbing greenhouse gas emissions given the result of the U.S. election and the fact that Canadian firms could potentially be put in an uncompetitive position if the incoming administration follows through on promises to repeal many of the rules in place regarding climate change?”

“No, we’re moving forward as is the World … I was at the  major economies forum with China, the EU, South Africa, the UK, Japan, France. Everyone is absolutely committed to climate action,” said McKenna

Photo Credit: Marrakech by Manu Méndez via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)

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