Fraser River coal port approval undermines Paris negotiations

VANCOUVER, B.C., COAST SALISH TERRITORIES On the very same day the historic COP21 climate talks commenced in Paris, Port Metro Vancouver approved a new thermal coal port on British Columbia’s Fraser River to ship the toxic fuel to coal-fired power plants in Asia.

Monday’s approval to move millions of tonnes of U.S. thermal coal annually on the Fraser River is a double black eye to our country and province for four main reasons:

  1. This approval directly contradicts Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s vision of Canada as an international climate change leader.
  2. This approval directly contradicts Premier Christy Clark’s vision of British Columbia as a climate leader–particularly her interest in weaning China off of coal-fired power plants.
  3. This approval directly contradicts global efforts to turn away from coal as the single biggest contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions.
  4. This approval directly contradicts the kind of assessment process cabinet ministers have been mandated to create to restore public trust and science-based decision-making.

Port Metro Vancouver, a captured regulator determined to keep a dying industry on its last legs, allowed the coal port proponent to assess its own project, refused to consider climate change and ignored local community input.

Like the National Energy Board, Port Metro Vancouver’s leadership is stacked with Conservative government appointees who seem intent on undermining the new government’s aspirations for climate leadership and balanced environmental assessment of major infrastructure projects.

Quotes from Dogwood Initiative’s Beyond Coal Campaign Director Laura Benson:

“If port leaders were trying to sneak this one under the radar they picked the worst possible week for the announcement. The entire world is looking at Paris and thinking about climate change while at home in B.C., we’re promoting the export of the world’s worst carbon fuel. This should be making international headlines.”

“The port’s decision came on the same day Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged international climate change leadership, and just two weeks after Cabinet Minister Carla Qualtrough promised to seek a more credible assessment for the Fraser Surrey Docks project. If our new federal government wants real change, this coal port and the increasingly rogue actions of an unaccountable port authority cannot go unnoticed.”

Contact: Laura Benson, laura@dogwoodbc.ca

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