British Columbia may be known for a breathtaking coastline and pristine mountain wilderness – but people living in the province are no stranger to the urgency of the climate emergency. After a record year of forest fires in 2018 and recent reports that the Southern Resident orca is facing extinction if business continues as usual, the Province and the Federal government continue to push ahead with climate-destroying projects in BC.
Combined, the LNG Canada pipeline and the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion will pump the equivalent of 220 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere – when the extraction, shipping and burning of the fuels are included. This is nearly four times the estimate for the total greenhouse gases emitted by the entire Province of BC every year. Yet, somehow, the government of Canada still claims they are going to meet the emissions targets of the UN Paris Agreement?
This is not to mention the tremendous waste of public tax-payer money that goes into mega-projects like these. Trudeau used $4.5 billion of public money to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline after the Texas billionaires Kinder Morgan decided the project wasn’t in their best business interests. Now, the project is projected to cost $20 billion by the time it is completed.
Despite six ongoing court challenges from Indigenous nations in the Federal Court of Appeal, 1200 outstanding permit applications in BC, and the recent ruling from the BC Court of Appeal that the previous environmental review by the Provincial government must be re-considered, the Federal government continues to push ahead with the TMX pipeline expansion. This includes current construction work at the Burnaby Mountain tank farm and Westridge Marine terminal and preparations for drilling a 2.6km hole right through the mountain. They have also stock-piled 550km of pipe along the route.
By committing to expanding the pipeline, the government of Canada has also committed to decades of continued climate destruction through the expansion of the Alberta Tar Sands. The Canadian Energy Research Institute (CERI) has predicted that the output from the Tar Sands will double by the year 2036. This includes this summer’s Federal government approval of the massive Frontier open-pit tar sands mine which will cover an area twice the size of the City of Vancouver. This mine, which is to be built by Vancouver-based Teck Resources, has a life span of 41 years. As the University of Alberta, Professor Gordon Laxer explained to The Narwhal, “The oilsands are Canada’s fastest-growing source of emissions…Their growth is going to make it virtually impossible to meet our 2030 Paris climate targets.”
On September 24, 2019, these reasons and more brought a diverse group of people out into the streets of Vancouver for action against the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and the growth of the Alberta tar sands. The rally and march were organized by grassroots climate justice organizations from across the Lower Mainland: Climate Convergence, the Mountain Protectors, BROKE, 350 Vancouver and Extinction Rebellion Vancouver, as part of the Global Climate Strike week of actions from September 20-27, 2019.
As participants gathered in front of the Environment Canada building in downtown Vancouver, speakers called attention to the sheer hypocrisy of the Trudeau government and the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna for claiming to be fighting climate change while consistently putting the interests of resource extraction corporations and agri-business first. Others highlighted the violations to Indigenous rights and sovereignty by projects such as Trans Mountain and the tar sands.
Before the protest took to the streets and marched up Burrard towards the busy intersection at Georgia Street, there was singing, chanting and many rounds of marching through the intersection in front of Environment Canada. Full of enthusiasm, the march continued up to RBC bank, a major investor in climate-destroying projects in Canada, and then wrapped up in front of the Teck Resources, the mining company responsible for much of the planned tar sands expansion.
United We Win!
This dynamic action was an important example of the unity in action that is needed to build a strong movement against the TMX pipeline, the tar sands expansion and the climate killing policies of the government of Canada. Although anger and frustration at the inaction of the Trudeau Liberal government hung heavy in the air that day – there was also a strong feeling of optimism and hope that a future is possible – and a powerful sense of support for the coming September 27 cross-Canada climate strike actions.
Declaring a “climate emergency,” as the Trudeau government has done, is meaningless without concrete actions to drastically and immediately cut fossil fuel emissions. As people who see a future for humanity on this planet, we must make it clear to Prime Minister Trudeau, and the next Prime Minister of Canada too that we do not believe in nice words and false equivalencies – pledging to plant 2 billion trees does not justify building a dirty and dangerous tar sands pipeline. What we need is a government that invests in healthcare, education, and sustainable energy development, a climate justice government that will no longer line the pockets of corporate oil executives in exchange for our future.
As the leading climate justice activist, 16-year-old Greta Thunberg said, “If solutions within this system are so difficult to find then maybe we should change the system itself.”
To get involved with climate justice organizing in Vancouver with Climate Convergence and for information on upcoming meetings, events and outreach actions visit www.climateconvergence.ca"!
Follow Alison on Twitter: @Alisoncolette
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