As 2020 begins, two key struggles against massive polluting pipeline projects are already ramping up. This presents urgent challenges and opportunities for the growing climate justice movement. As global warming and the climate crisis escalate to increasingly dangerous levels – united and committed mass opposition to both the Coastal Gas Link (CGL) and Trans Mountain Expansion (TMX) Pipelines are key to setting the tone for this decisive decade.
The government of Canada and their corporate partners are sticking to same game plan led us down this treacherous path to begin with – giving lip service to environmental concerns and Indigenous rights – while going full bore ahead with massive resource extraction projects which completely disregard both.
The Supreme Court of British Columbia recently issued the predictably terrible decision which sided with the Coastal Gas Link corporation over the Wet'suwet'en Nation, who had set up checkpoints on their traditional territory to stop construction of the fracked natural gas CGL pipeline. CGL wasted no time posting a 72-hour injunction notice allowing the RCMP to arrest anyone blocking access to its work site. The BC NDP government, which approved the pipeline, has been unwilling to defend Wet’suwet’en Nation members. They also refuse to show how this project, which is expected to emit about four megatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions every year (the same as adding 856,531 cars to the road) fits within its “Clean BC” climate commitments.
Meanwhile, Trans Mountain has asked for expedited permits as it promises to “put pipe in the ground” for its massive Tar Sands Pipeline project which the Canadian government spent $4.5 billion taxpayer dollars in purchasing – and unrevealed billions of dollars more in building. "If we build new fossil fuel infrastructure now, which will lock us into carbon emissions for decades, it will make it very difficult, if not impossible, to keep warming below 1.5 degrees," said Kirsten Zickfeld, a Simon Fraser University associate professor of climate science, and lead author of the United Nation report which warned last year that we only have 12 years to drastically reduce carbon emissions or face catastrophic and possibly irreversible consequences.
In December 2019 the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination reviewed the government of Canada’s so-called Indigenous consultation process for these massive climate destroying projects. They found a deliberate trampling of the right of Indigenous peoples right to free, prior and informed consent. Now, they are calling on the government of Canada to immediately end the construction and suspend or cancel the permits for the TMX pipeline, the Site C Dam and the Coastal Gaslink pipeline.
2019 saw massive growth in the size and political perspective climate justice movement in British Columbia and around the world. Millions are taking to streets in coordinated efforts, while also being clear that we are not only against these destructive mega-projects, but in favour of a better and sustainable world which prioritizes the lives and well-being of the majority above the mega-profits of the few.
Locally, we have also seen new coalitions and ongoing collaboration between different climate justice organizations. This has improved and amplified our overall work. Climate Convergence has played an important part of these collaborations, and we look forward to making them bigger and even more effective in 2020.
Let’s not waver in our commitment to stopping these projects and building a better world. If the government of Canada, any of the major political parties, and these massive corporations had wanted to “do the right thing”, they would have done so long ago. This new year gives us the opportunity to show what is possible when we put our confidence in the millions of people mobilizing around the world and commit to our own united and effective participation in the climate justice movement. The fight against the TMX and CGL pipelines, and in defense of Indigenous rights, mother earth and our right to a future, is one and the same. Let’s make stopping these two destructive pipelines the first two big steps in this massive and extraordinary undertaking!
Build Our Future Not a Pipeline!
Statement by Climate Convergence Metro Vancouver
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