Alberta’s oil industry won a symbolic victory. President Trump calls his approval of the Keystone XL pipeline “a great day for jobs and energy independence” in the United States. Canada’s National Energy Board (NEB) admits the industry is not using its’ current pipeline capacity1 and adding more pipelines is “not consistent with the Paris Accord’s commitment to keep (Global) warming to two degrees Celsius, or its aspirational goal of limiting it to 1.5 degrees Celsius.”2 Approving the Keystone XL Pipeline is about our future on a planet where the scale and pace of extreme weather events is increasing.
“Canadian crude oil export pipelines are utilized at 85 to 90 per cent of their capacity … based on respective historical utilization rates.” – Canada’s Energy Future 2016, National Energy Board, p 92 ↩
A 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.
The American people have spoken. Donald Trump is not Dr Allan Hoffman’s choice for President. While it is still possible that Trump will be more reasonable than his pre-election rhetoric suggests, this is unlikely. Hoffman described Trump as a demagogue who appears to be a climate denier, whose statements about energy were “uninformed, ignorant and terrible.” Never-the-less, he has been elected and, for the next four years, “the American public is going to have to live with that.” Hoffman spoke about the realities of living with a Trump presidency.
The United States has known that burning fossil fuels destabilizes our climate for over fifty years, but taken few steps to prevent this. Even now, 18 months after President Obama declared “No challenge poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change,” the nation does not appear to be ready to switch away from a fossil fuel based energy system. According to Our Children’s Trust, this is discriminating against the rights of the very generations who will experience the worst effects of Climate change. So 21 Climate Kids are suing America.