Last month, 100 young people were arrested in Ottawa as they were protesting the rumoured approval of the Kinder Morgan pipeline. Their message to Prime Minister Trudeau: climate leaders don’t build pipelines. In the Yukon election, the message could be: climate leaders don’t support new oil and gas development.
While all of the parties on the ballot talk about fighting climate change, some of them are seriously undermining their credibility on this issue by promoting oil and gas development. The top contributor to Canada’s emissions is the oil and gas industry. On what grounds could we justify opening the Yukon to exploration, development, production, and refining of oil and gas, knowing the emissions that would result? We cannot let this kind of climate denial, the kind that recognizes the overwhelming scientific evidence of climate change in words, but then effectively ignores it in action, go unchecked.
We’ve seen this in Trudeau’s approval of the controversial LNG plant in B.C. and in the provincial and territorial pushback against a measly $10-per-tonne carbon tax. Clearly many people have been happy to play along with all of the climate change talk for years as long as it didn’t actually mean leaving fossil fuels in the ground.
We don’t have time for more wrangling or dithering. The Yukon, just like the rest of the world, needs to be a part of the solution on climate change. A recent study showed that emissions from all existing coal, oil and gas operations would be enough to put us over the 1.5C threshold that all nations agreed to avoid in the UN Paris Agreement. Simply put, we have no business drilling for new oil and gas resources in the Yukon — whether they are fracked or not. We must realize that in supporting new oil and gas projects we are helping ensure that the warming, the ice melt, the sea level rise and the droughts only get worse. We are choosing the warmer world that is guaranteed for our grandchildren if our emissions stay on their current trajectory.
Some have bought into the idea that it’s a scandal that we’re importing fossil fuels when we have our own fossil fuels beneath us. But the real scandal is that we would actually consider replacing imported dirty energy with local dirty energy instead of investing in the renewable industries that are going to be a party of our long-term future. Fixing a local problem by adding to a global problem is not the right path.