rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

Premiers meeting in Ottawa to discuss pipelines and climate change

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

Photo: Martin Lopatka/flickr

Canada's premiers and territorial leaders need to grapple with the issue of climate change.

And they're not doing so well so far.

Alberta premier Jim Prentice describes the Keystone XL pipeline -- which would emit 22 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year -- as "environmentally defensible." Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall says he would be "disappointed" if U.S. president Obama were to veto the pipeline. British Columbia premier Christy Clark is championing the development of liquefied natural gas export terminals in her province, even though just five LNG terminals would release 13 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions and the fracking and transport of the gas would generate another 15 million tonnes of GHG emissions. And while Energy East would release 32 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year, Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne says her province will examine the pipeline only on the basis of its "downstream" emissions, such as bulldozer exhaust fumes resulting from its construction in her province, and that she wants to help Alberta get more of its oil to market.

For his part, New Brunswick premier Brian Gallant has publicly backed the idea of twinning Energy East from Alberta to his province with a fracked gas pipeline that could feed an LNG export terminal in Saint John. And the premier of the Northwest Territories has been promoting the 100,000 barrel per day Arctic Gateway pipeline from the tar sands to the Arctic Ocean that could begin with oil shipments by rail and barge transport this summer.

The premiers and territorial leaders will have a series of meetings this year to develop a Canadian energy strategy before the summer.

First up is a January 30 meeting in Ottawa. The Toronto Star reports that Premier Wynne wants to discuss the falling price of oil and "the work the provinces are doing to complete the Canadian Energy Strategy and the commitment to addressing climate change."

Next up, there will be a federal-provincial-territorial meeting in late February convened by federal environment minister Leona Aglukkaq to discuss new post-2020 carbon emission goals. The direction given by the premiers to their environment ministers for this meeting will be critical given the United Nations has asked all countries to submit their targets by the end of the March so that information can be compiled for the pivotal UN climate talks in Paris in December.

They will then be meeting again in April in Quebec. That's because Quebec premier Philippe Couillard, has invited his provincial and territorial counterparts to attend a summit on climate change to "pave our way to the Paris conference of 2015 with concrete commitments."

And then they will be meeting again July 14-18 in Newfoundland and Labrador to finalize a provincial-territorial energy and climate change strategy.

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow says, "We are demanding a Canadian energy strategy which features meaningful regulatory limits on greenhouse gas emissions, a just transition to conservation, energy efficiency and the rapid expansion of public and community-owned renewable energy. Intimately linked to these efforts is our call to oppose the 'free trade' agenda of NAFTA, CETA and the WTO given they undermine the ability of all levels of governments to regulate the sale or extraction of fossil fuels and promote renewable energy."

Energy and climate justice campaigner Andrea Harden-Donahue adds, "We are very wary and would oppose a strategy that allows business as usual -- namely, the pursuit of an energy superpower status through increased exports based on unfettered ongoing fossil-fuel exploitation. The social and environmental costs of this are all too clear."

The premiers and territorial leaders last tried to develop an energy strategy in 2012. The strategy behind this for then-premier Alison Redford was to facilitate and increase the production and export of tar sands bitumen. But it hit numerous obstacles: Then-premier Dalton McGuinty highlighted the impact the tar sands had on undermining Ontario's manufacturing sector. The PQ government at that time in Quebec opposed a national plan because energy is an area of "provincial competence." They also opposed Newfoundland's plans for more hydroelectric dams. And BC premier Christy Clark had made royalty demands at that point that were seen as obstacle to the construction of the Northern Gateway pipeline.

It remains to be seen if Canada's premiers and territorial leaders can put aside their parochial differences and their carbon-based agendas and focus on the greatest challenge of our day -- pulling the planet back from the brink of a climate catastrophe. For his part, Stephen Harper seems disinterested. The prime minister was invited this weekend by Ontario premier Wynne to participate in the January 30 meeting in the nation's capital and he has already indicated that he will not be attending.

Photo: Martin Lopatka/flickr

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.