Liberals failing to lead on climate change

What if I told you that to reduce violence against women, we need to give more power to men?

What if I told you that to reduce violence against women, we need to give more power to men? Or that to solve the obesity crisis, we should increase access to junk food? Or that billionaire businessmen like Donald Trump are the key to lifting the working class out of poverty? I have the same reaction when the Prime Minister tells us that we must build more pipelines in order to facilitate the transition away from oil.

According to the President and CEO of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), the Kinder Morgan and Line 3 pipelines will add another 1.5 million barrels of production per day to the Alberta tar sands and put them in good position to grow over the next 15 years. Does the Prime Minister seriously believe that Canada can meet its Paris climate targets by allowing the Alberta tar sands to continue growing until 2032?

The science is clear that we need to start scaling down fossil fuels now, not 15 years from now. You don’t build massive new fossil fuel infrastructure to use it for a short period of time. The only possible outcomes of new tar sands pipelines are 1) that they prevent Canada from living up to its climate change commitments and help seal the fate of human civilization or 2) they become stranded assets and a waste of money because we’ve moved onto clean technologies.

At this point, what’s good for Canada’s fossil fuel industry is bad for the planet, but the Liberal Government seems not to recognize this. They also failed to recognize it when they approved the massive LNG terminal on the west coast that would add 12 metric tons (Mt) of emissions from fracked gas and blow through BC’s carbon budget. The Liberals also decided to retain Stephen Harper’s inadequate greenhouse gas reduction targets for 2030, despite criticizing Harper’s inaction on climate change during the 2015 election campaign.

With Kinder Morgan, Line 3 and the LNG terminal, even these mediocre reduction targets seem implausible. On its own, Kinder Morgan would add 19 Mt in emissions from the extraction process, and 108 Mt in emissions when the oil is burnt in the much-touted Asian markets. And we might not be done yet. Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr has said that the government fully supports the Keystone XL pipeline and has also hinted that the Energy East pipeline is needed to increase tar sands capacity.

The government has been quick to brandish its carbon tax and coal phase-out, but a recent emissions tally posted on the National Observer website shows an oncoming carbon tsunami from the massive new projects supported by the Liberals, a surge in emissions that would dwarf any of the meagre gains from a $10 per tonne carbon tax or a coal phase-out.

I don’t think this is the climate ‘leadership’ anyone expected.

Jason LaChappelle Whitehorse