Last month Greenpeace published a report called Point of No Return: The massive climate threats we must avoid. Essentially, there are 14 global coal, oil and gas projects which, if followed through on, will raise “global CO2 emissions from fossil fuels by 20% and keep the world on a path towards” 5 – 6 degrees Celsius of warming. That kind of warming will push “the climate beyond the point of no return, locking the world into a scenario leading to catastrophic climate change, and ensuring that we run out of time.” We should, at the very least, stay below 2 degrees Celsius of warming.

So what are these international projects which, taken together, will lock us in to a future nobody wants? They include coal mining expansion in China, growing coal exporting from Australia, the US and Indonesia, Canada’s tar sands, and other unconventional sources of oil in the Arctic, off the coast of Brazil, in Iraq, in the Gulf of Mexico and in Kazakhstan, and gas projects in Africa and the Caspian Sea.

 A report “estimated that climate change is already taking 5 million lives a year. By 2030, deaths could total 100 million.”

 But, the Greenpeace report does identify potential solutions. “One of the key actions is to avoid the massive new emissions from the 14 projects in this report,” he points out. “The new CO2 emissions avoided by cancelling these dirty energy projects would cover about one third of the total reductions needed to head off catastrophic climate change.”  

The governments involved in these 14 projects must see the contradiction in supporting the 2 degrees Celsius limit and yet approving these projects. In Canada, we probably can’t do a lot to stop the projects abroad, but we have some power with regards to the tar sands. We can support divestment, we can organize, we can support the movements calling for some kind of limit of the tar sands. We must do all this quickly before we lock in an unfortunate future.


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