An Angus Reid poll found 58 percent of Canadians think lack of pipeline capacity is a national crisis. They can be forgiven for this. The company that owns a near monopoly on newspapers in Canada, aided by politicians and fossil fuel interests, has put significant effort into convincing them.
That the number rises to 87 percent in Alberta, with 96 percent believing that not building new pipelines would have a major impact on the Canadian economy, isn’t surprising. All mainstream newspapers there are owned by the same company, political parties across the spectrum prioritize oil and gas interests over everything, and even educational institutions like the University of Calgary have been compromised by industry influence.
What won’t help is continuing to dig up, frack, and sell climate-disrupting fossil fuels as quickly as possible
The economic and societal costs from the pollution and climate impacts of rapidly digging up, shipping, and consuming these fossil fuels, whether the end product is burned here or in other countries, continue to rise along with global emissions and temperatures. That’s a crisis! MORE
Canadian military personnel assist with disaster relief on May 10, 2017 in Gatineau, Que, as part of Operation LENTUS, a deployment of 2,200 troops dispatched following severe flooding in Ontario and Quebec. File photo by Alex Tétreault
After many people were buzzing about a new Angus Reid poll that concluded most Canadians believe the country faces a crisis due to a lack of pipelines, we did a few informal surveys of our own to ask the public some questions that we felt had been left out.
The results are in:
Out of 223 votes, 86 per cent of the respondents said that the Alberta Energy Regulator’s internal estimate of $260 billion in financial liabilities for the oilpatch is a “crisis.”
Out of 182 responses, a whopping 96 per cent said that a recent scientific assessment by the United Nations IPCC ( Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) that said the world had only 12 years left to prevent some of the worst impacts of climate change is a “crisis.”
Out of 193 responses, 89 per cent said that the Ontario government’s recent decisions to cancel green energy policies is a “crisis.”
And finally, out of 181 votes, 96 per cent said that the fact that large portions of Canada’s forests are at risk of dying off as climate change aggravates wildfires, droughts and infestations is a “crisis.” MORE
The good, the bad, the ugly, and the ridiculous from the past year
..So, without further ado, here are the major environmental stories of 2018, as curated by Sierra editors and the leadership of the Sierra Club….
Keep It in the Ground Movement Plugs Oil and Gas Pipelines
PHOTO BY LEONID EREMEYCHUK/ISTOCK
For several years now (at least since Bill McKibben wrote his now-canonical essay, “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math”), grassroots environmentalists have been making the case that virtually any new fossil fuel development is incompatible with maintaining a stable climate, since we are rapidly burning through our “carbon budget.” This Keep It in the Ground movement has fought gas export terminals, defeated coal export terminals, and waged pitched battles against the Bayou Bridge pipeline, the Line 3 pipeline, and, famously, the Dakota Access pipeline. Often the resistance takes the form of protests and rallies; sometimes it comes in the form of civil disobedience. And almost always there are some lawyers from the Sierra Club or Earthjustice or NRDC making arguments in court.
In 2018, some judges started to listen, and dealt a series of major setbacks to pipeline projects. MORE
But pressure to build more pipelines to develop tar sands crude is fuelling a political calamity between Alberta and the rest of the country
Flood that hit Toronto Islands in 2017 has been followed by more climate extremes.
The forest fires, floods and drought that destroyed the continent in 2017 were no anomaly, as Naomi Klein wrote here for us. But a year after the year from hell, nothing could have prepared us for 2018.
Hurricanes crushed the Carolinas causing an ecological emergency, contamination from flooding flowed into water supplies in New Brunswick, and in Ontario temps eclipsed 40°C more often than at any other time in history. Other parts of the country, meanwhile, shivered as British Columbia choked once again on ash from forest fires that blotted out the sun for weeks on end.
Closer to home, an ice storm packing 100-kilometre winds knocked out power for thousands and raised waves higher than any measured before on Lake Ontario a year after floods cut off the Toronto Islands. That was followed in September by a string of tornadoes in the Ottawa area. MORE
WINNIPEG, Manitoba/VANCOUVER (Reuters) – A decade ago, Canada’s oil sector was growing so fast it was predicted to become a global energy superpower, but a series of political missteps and formidable environmental activism has created a dysfunctional system requiring OPEC-style government intervention to move its oil to market.
Greenpeace protestors (C) occupy an oil storage tank at Kinder Morgan Energy’s pipeline terminus in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, October 16, 2013. REUTERS/Andy Clark/File Photo
…But Ottawa has failed under two governments to effectively counter the strategy of environmental activists to attack the oil sector’s heart by choking its arteries – pipelines. Roughly 35 million barrels, twice the normal amount, of Western Canadian crude used to produce diesel, gasoline and jet fuel is stuck in storage. MORE
Despite the 2014 oil price crash and the ongoing hand-wringing over pipelines and the price of Canadian heavy oil, a new study from the Corporate Mapping Project shows the reality is that the Big Five oil sands producers have remained incredibly profitable corporations.
The study, released in November by the Parkland Institute and Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives – BC Office, finds that Suncor, CNRL, Cenovus, Imperial, and Husky banked or paid out to shareholders a total of $13.5 billion last year alone. These big five oil sands corporations produce 80% of Canada’s bitumen. MORE
Ground zero in the global battle against climate chaos this week is in Wet’suwet’en territory, northern British Columbia.
As pipeline companies try to push their way onto unceded Indigenous territories, the conflict could become the next Standing Rock-style showdown over Indigenous rights and fossil fuel infrastructure.
Since 2010, the Unist’ot’en clan, members of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation, have been reoccupying and re-establishing themselves on their ancestral lands in opposition to as many as six proposed pipeline projects. MORE