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Trudeau's Big Oil-friendly decisions mean climate chaos

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna at COP21. Photo by Environment and Climate Change Canada/ Wikimedia Commons.

The world will warm 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2030 unless dramatic action is taken, according to a United Nations report released Monday.

And it called for "rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented change in all aspects of society" to avoid the planet warming to this degree.

Failing to do so would mean a further increase in sea levels, more extreme weather events, water shortages, food scarcity, and increased numbers of climate refugees.

Several years ago, DARA International, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the effectiveness of humanitarian action for people affected by armed conflict and natural disasters, issued a report that projected 600,000 people would die worldwide each year by 2030 due to climate change.

Having seen the UN panel report before it was released, Canada's environment minister Catherine McKenna told the Canadian Press, "We acknowledge this and we all know we need to do more."

Those words ring hollow when we look at the Trudeau government's climate record.

Since coming to power in October 2015, it has approved the Woodfibre LNG terminal and the TransCanada NOVA Gas Transmission Ltd. fracked gas pipeline.

It is now also welcoming the Royal Dutch Shell investment decision to proceed with the LNG Canada terminal in Kitimat and its associated fracked gas pipeline.

And while Petronas decided against proceeding with the Pacific NorthWest LNG terminal, the Trudeau government had approved that project, too.

Furthermore, it has approved the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline and the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline. It even went one step farther by actually buying the latter pipeline to ensure that it is built.

The Trudeau government also did not rule out proceeding with the TransCanada Energy East pipeline, has publicly supported U.S. President Donald Trump's approval of the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline, and is actively considering the Teck Resources Frontier tar sands mine.

And it approved BP drilling for oil and gas offshore of Nova Scotia, would allow oil and gas exploration in the Laurentian Channel of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and is spending billions to assert Canadian sovereignty over Arctic Ocean territorial waters – and the billions of barrels of oil that lie under its seabed.

The Trudeau government has not phased out fossil fuel subsidies as it had promised during the last election, and its $20-a-tonne carbon tax, scheduled to start in January 2019, is woefully short of the $180 to $200 per tonne that experts say is needed to meet Canada's climate agreement pledge in Paris.

In March 2017, Environment Canada acknowledged Canada's annual greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 are expected to be between 697 and 790 megatonnes.

That's significantly above Canada's pledge in the Paris climate agreement to reduce annual carbon emissions to 517 megatonnes a year by 2030.

Despite this, McKenna told the Canadian Press in March of this year, "We're absolutely committed to meeting our target."

That is simply no longer a credible statement.

Environmental writer and activist George Monbiot recently told Novara Media, "The political system is completely out of phase with the environmental crisis... (Governments) don't actually want to deal with climate breakdown ... because it messes up their nice cozy relationships with corporations (and questions) all the premises on which all our politics and economics has been created."

That's useful context when science says 85 per cent of the tar sands cannot be burned in order to limit warming to two degrees Celsius while Trudeau assures Big Oil, "No country would find 173 billion barrels of oil in the ground and leave them there."

Brent Patterson is a political activist and writer.

Photo: Environment and Climate Change Canada/Wikimedia Commons

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