Trudeau’s climate plan: made for the oil patch

“New pipelines to transition to clean energy” is Canada’s own form of climate denial

Watching Prime Minister Trudeau celebrate President Trump’s executive order reviving the Keystone XL pipeline got me thinking: how is it that our ‘progressive’ Canadian leader is siding with the climate-denying U.S. president on major fossil fuel expansion?

It’s a scary reminder that Trudeau’s recent pipeline and tanker project approvals are simply an extension of the oil patch status quo.

In the 22 years since I was born, pollution from Alberta’s oil sands has more than doubled – driving the vast majority of carbon emission growth in our country. For my entire life, I have watched Canadian governments compromise the stability of our global climate in order to expand the tar sands.

Trudeau’s “compromise” last fall – granting Alberta two new pipelines in exchange for a pan-Canadian climate plan – was no exception. Keystone XL would be number three. Energy East will come up for approval before the next election.

Tapping the brakes, stomping the gas

Prime Minister Stephen Harper committed Canada to cutting emissions 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, a target Trudeau has since kept. But Trudeau’s new climate plan allows emissions from the oil sands to triple over that same period.

If tar sands emissions are to grow three-fold, who’s going to make up the difference?

Trudeau could ask the rest of the economy to take on a greater burden to make up for his oil export ambitions. That would require slashing all other emissions across the country by 41 per cent. Alternately, massive tar sands growth might simply mean Canada misses Harper’s target.

At this point, Trudeau is on track towards the latter.

His government’s Pan-Canadian Plan on Clean Growth and Climate Change promises to phase out coal burning and expand carbon pricing to all provinces – both moves I applaud. But the climate plan still falls short of its goal. Even if you roll in questionable international credits and yet-to-be developed policies like a low-carbon fuel standard or better building standards, Trudeau’s climate plan still misses the target by 44 million tonnes.

That’s about equivalent to the additional tar sands emissions growth allowed under Trudeau’s plan – if you only count the ‘upstream’ pollution in Canada and not the worldwide emissions from burning all that heavy oil.

So no, there isn’t a plan to hit the Harper-era targets. And even that 30 per cent goal falls woefully short of Canada’s fair share toward the goal laid out in the Paris Agreement of keeping warming well below two degrees Celsius, aiming for 1.5.

A new form of denial

President Trump says climate change is a Chinese hoax. Prime Minister Trudeau says it is a real and existential threat to our society. What’s clear is that together, their actions take us in the wrong direction.

Trudeau has developed a more palatable but almost as dangerous form of climate denial: believing that, as long as we acknowledge the scientific reality of our warming world, we can continue to expand fossil fuel production with impunity.

At my most generous, I think Trudeau and his Ottawa Liberal elite have actually tricked themselves with their acronyms and carbon credit schemes into believing heavy oil expansion is consistent with a safe climate for my generation.

The rest of the time, I believe they are trying to deliberately manipulate the Canadian public, exploiting our hunger for win-win solutions by telling us that locking in new tar sands pipeline infrastructure is the pathway to a clean energy future.

And don’t get me wrong – Trudeau’s PR machine is really good at it. They make Orwellian double-speak seem like normal, intellectual political discourse. Canada must build pipelines to fund the clean energy transition! That makes just as much sense as smoking another pack of cigarettes a day to avoid lung cancer.

Failure of leadership

Yes, the environment and the economy must go hand in hand. But if, in the 21st century, digging deeper into oil exports is the best Trudeau can do, then it only shows how much he lacks the vision and leadership this moment requires.

Last year was the third in a row that broke global temperature records. The U.S. government is now being run by a billionaire climate-denier, the former CEO of Exxon and the Russian president – all of whom are no doubt salivating over the possibility of accessing brand new oil reserves as the Arctic ice sheet melts.

That also means unlocking huge volumes of raw methane, a planet-warming gas even more potent than carbon dioxide.

Which in turn means more famine, more conflict and yes, more refugees – yet another global crisis our world leaders are pathetically failing to address.

These are dark times for young people scared about what the future will bring. The impacts of global warming are arriving sooner than expected. But even if the rest of the world gets its act together and solves the climate crisis, Canadians will face the problem of having even more of our country’s economic eggs in the heavy oil basket.

By advocating for new pipelines heading west, east and south, Canada’s self-appointed Minister of Youth is leaving my generation neither the environment nor the economy we need for a stable future.



23 Responses to “Trudeau’s climate plan: made for the oil patch”

  1. Barry Faires says:

    Brilliantly analysed, Sophie! Thank you! Canadians must oppose his oxymoronic approvals.

  2. Wiemers Jutta says:

    It would really help if you were to send us the addresses and perhaps a suggestion for a letter writing campaign. I would LOVE to tell all and every Liberal that they should not count on my vote next time the way they are going! I think the sooner we get that through to them, the better!

  3. Geoffrey Pounder says:

    The watchword with the Trudeau govt is betrayal.
    The Liberals play Canadians for chumps. We’ll see in 2019.

    AB NDP Premier Rachel Notley touts a climate change plan that increases emissions and sets no targets or timelines.
    Trudeau’s vaporous climate change plan includes no roadmap for taking us to our inadequate targets.
    So far the mainstream media (CBC, Postmedia) have failed to do their jobs and hold govt to account.
    It’s up to Canadians to demand targets and timelines based on the best available science and a roadmap that takes us there.

    • Harald Tilgner says:

      Unfortunately 2019 to effect a possible dumping of trudeau[sic] is NOT acceptable – he should be FIRED by all of us, including the ones who voted liberal the last time.

  4. Cheryl Northcott says:

    Every person seeking a political position should be required to be hooked up to a lie detector every time they are campaigning!i am a senior who has always voted in every federal,provincial and municipal election!i don’t label myself I vote for the person I think will be the best at implementing the policies that will make our country the best it can be for all of us but I am so sad that so many people think the answer is a Trump lite PM ,disrespecting the right of every Canadian to have clean air,clean water and clean air by putting profits of big companies first is a crime against everyone of us!!!

  5. Cheryl Northcott says:

    I meant clean air,clean water and non contaminated soil!senior moment lol!

  6. I.P.A. Manning says:

    Trudeau has failed Canada. His Orwellian ‘doublethink’ has exposed him. We are in Armageddon, a decision to risk going beyond 2 degrees centigrade is ignorant, but also evil. Fossil fuels must stay in the ground. We can no longer play the old political game. In future the electorate must sign a covenant with politicians embracing the key and essential survival imperatives, which, if broken, require them to step down. Trudeau should resign. And we need to wise up permanently, or not.

  7. Pam Beech says:

    This sums it all up very well and what is a significant eye opener is that if any world leader should have had the good sense and conviction to turn this around, to do the right thing for the future of this planet, his generation, that of his children and my grandchildren it should have been Justin Trudeau. What a colossal disappointment he and the Federal Liberals have turned out to be.
    Having said that I take heart that thanks to the conviction of indigenous people all over the world, the rest of us are awakening to the need to fight our governments in denial, our wasteful derelict systems and our greedy corporations and we stand together world wide for perhaps the first time in history. This war is internal within our countries and the people on the ground will win, we must win for the voiceless children and vulnerable who depend upon us for their very life in the future.
    Shame on Justin Trudeau and all world leaders who support this continued attack on the future health and well being of our voiceless children and marginalized populations. Shame on my generation for being so blind to the impact of our drive towards so called civilized life and economic prosperity at any cost.
    Time to wake up and deal with what we have set in motion!

  8. Jeremy Mendes says:

    Your article is most noble. The realities of the world we live leaves us all at the disposal of those who actually are making the decisions. Justin Trudeau and all his predecessors, dating back long before your 22yrs or my 51 yrs, are nothing more than PR figure-head’s relaying decisions put forth to them by multi-national corporate entities.The time to scale back our reliance on ‘dirty energy’ passed long ago. The warnings issued, long ago,by many who forsaw our current environmental situation fell on deaf ears.
    As you stated, but maybe aren’t fully aware of, the reality of methane gas being released in unimaginable quantities into the atmosphere are what mass extinctions are made of. Archeology has made that clear. As the permafrost continues to melt, the organic material encased within (average depth being 9 metres) has no other means to release by-product other than as methane because of low oxygen levels in the permafrost. Methane contributes to greenhouse effect 20× than that of carbon dioxide.
    There is no reversing this process. Decomposition creates its own heat. The devastating effect of this phenomenon will become more profound as time passes, much less time than many expect or realize, as this process progresses.
    In the minds of ‘conspiracy theorists’, such realization of this phenomenon has become evident to the ‘establishment’. The ‘CT’S’ would coclude that the elitists are ready and willing to let bilions die and take their chances on surviving by building appropriate infrastructure facilities,in an attempt, to save themselves.
    In the not so distant future, it is likely humans and other life forms, will no longer be able to sustain the environmental conditions over most of the planet’s surface. It is also likely that palm trees and other vegetation, more common to equatorial locations, will once again flourish well above the arctic circle regions.

  9. christopher says:

    I want a public inquiry and financial compensation into my file declared top secret by SIRC the watchdog for CSIS in 1989 when I spoke to the government of Canada. I want justice

  10. TCee says:

    Could not agree more. I, too, despair, being at least 50 years older than you, & seeing the overall decline of our beautiful, miraculous planet thanks to the salacious corporate & personal greed of Trump & his cronies, and the pitiful light-weightism and intellectual blather of Trudeau. I despair for my little granddaughter and your generation and for future generations, not just of humanity but for all the species that are being exterminated. I applaud the way thousands, millions of ordinary people are rallying around to stop this greed and stupidity. You, us, and they will be the ones to turn this around, so we must not give up.

  11. Donald Brown says:

    Can a Canadian Prime Minister be impeached for such obvious and blatant reversals of promises to the Electorate, such as, regarding Climate Goals and Electiral Reform?

  12. tara says:

    He should be forced to resign, go, as he lied and deceived the people to become prime minister.

  13. Harald Tilgner says:

    While I do NOT agree with the climate change(?) scenario, I abhor the thought of high pressure pipelines to make use of the “treasure” of the tar sands. If we were to need this treasure, it would behoove us to refine it where is and transport it in existing pipelines for our use to produce products for domestic and export use.
    Any other way is NOT conducive to providing optimum living conditions for future generations and I am glad to see, that the author of the above article is of the young age portion of our country’s inhabitants.
    Harald Tilgner, Ryder Lake, BC.

  14. Elsie Dean says:

    Blaming our governments for taking us down the road to disaster, is in a way passing the buck, they are after all the governments we put there to make decisions for us and we have been doing this for countless years – repeating the same mistake and expecting better outcomes. It is time for each one of us to join with others and come up with a plan to turn things around. Take the power out of the hands of the present corporate hegemony and their government representatives, put decision making power in a system run by the people. We can do it and we must do it if the earth can continue to support us.

  15. Wally Roth says:

    Are we returning to this mantra? “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die!” We soon will be if we don’t look after the planet that sustains us.

  16. Mister-eWatcher says:

    Trudeau is a vacuous, hollow politician, who tricked many of us by his “Sunny ways” and false promises. His only interest is power and celebrity. He has no integrity and cannot be trusted. This just shows that Canadians are still being duped by politicians. After nearly 10 years of Harper, we deserve better, and yet we just voted in a another deceitful PM who directs his members how to vote, lies to the electorate,and is undeserving of our trust. We can do better next election by not voting based upon good hair and pretty faces, but looking at voting records.

    In the meantime, we need to let his party MPs know they are replaceable, and if Harper was removable via a “first passed the post” electoral system, we can turf Trudeau and his party, also.

    We need to start making it clear these anti-environmental policies are NOT acceptable, and there will not only be environmental consequences if they are continued.

  17. Sharron Bradley says:

    Since Trudeau became Prime Minister he has globe trotted all over the world than working for the Canadians. I don’t care what he calls it, they’ve been very expensive vacations paid for by the Canadians. It is called stealing.

  18. When I asked MP Colin Fraser on Radio (Y95/ Formerly CJLS) Talk Show “The Weekender” Jan 22/17 about why we are giving our resources like water to Nestle for next to nothing and our Oil is being Managed by other Countries which Benefit them Greatly, and we are not Profiting like other countries from our resources:
    MP Colin Fraser said: “We have to get our Resources to market some way/how.”

  19. The facts of life are such that OIL is the main source of energy the world’s infrastructure has established. THAT’S THE FACTS. So the process to change that situation requires funds to make the change. Another fact.
    It is therefore part of the process to achieve those important changes, by using the resources we already have that feed the established infrastructure, which is coal and oil right now. The key is to do it using all those resources to make the changes as fast and efficiently as possible.
    It’s ironic Ecuador’s very capable president Rafael Correa is suffering the same politcal attacks the Liberals in Canada are, using it to score political points in the opposition’s favor.

  20. Sherry Briggs says:

    Having a letter, generic and sign the petition on site would get a lot more people for a campaign message.
    Thanks Sherry

Leave a Reply