Greta Thunberg and other youth call on Trudeau to ditch fossil fuels

Fifteen young people co-signed a Dec. 10, 2019 letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to block any new oil and gas projects and move quickly to phase out existing production. Photos compiled by Alastair Sharp via

Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg and 14 other young people are calling on Canada to block any new oil and gas projects and move quickly to phase out existing production, saying that to do so would blaze a trail that other countries reliant on fossil fuel industries could follow.

The group of youth from across the world said Canada has taken a leading role globally in pushing for climate action, but must apply the same commitment domestically, in a letter addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and dated Dec. 10, Human Rights Day.

“Canada must apply its international climate leadership to all domestic action,” the letter says. “It must demonstrate how a major fossil fuels producer and exporter can transition away from these pollutants, blazing a trail for other fossil fuel-reliant economies to follow.”

They also wrote separately to Norway, another developed economy with a major and still-expanding oil and gas industry, with similar demands.

The group — which in September filed a complaint at the United Nations against Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany and Turkey — argues that climate inaction amounts to a violation of the rights of children, who will bear the brunt of the negative effects of a warming planet.

Trudeau has sought to align himself with Thunberg, who has galvanized the world’s young people to demand action on climate change after she started skipping school last year to protest outside the Swedish parliament. They met in September ahead of a massive climate march in Montreal, which they both took part in.

Canada is the world’s fourth-largest producer and exporter of oil, which mostly comes from the oil-rich province of Alberta and mostly goes to the United States. The combustion of oil and gas releases carbon and other gases into the atmosphere, creating a greenhouse effect that traps heat and is leading to more frequent and more extreme weather events and rising sea levels.

Trudeau’s government, which was re-elected with a minority in the October election despite strong opposition to its climate policies from Alberta and fellow oil and gas province Saskatchewan, has promised to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

The youth letter points out that to achieve that goal would require a block on all new projects.

Canada is currently considering an application from Teck Resources to develop the $20-billion, 260,000-barrel-per-day Frontier project abutting the Athabasca River in Alberta’s northeast, which, if approved, would be the first new open-pit petroleum-mining construction in the country’s oilpatch in many years. The government’s decision is due by the end of February.

Canada “must demonstrate how a major fossil fuels producer and exporter can transition away from these pollutants,” @GretaThunberg and other youth write in letter to @JustinTrudeau, calling for a block on all new oil and gas projects.

The letter also refers to other expansion activities, including the nearly complete 1,600-kilometre Line 3 pipeline between Alberta and Wisconsin, and the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline, which Ottawa bought last year and which, if built, would triple the capacity of that route from the oilsands to the British Columbia coast.

The Line 3 pipeline alone could boost Canada’s oil production by 10 per cent. Canada’s overall oil production is projected to expand by 60 per cent between 2017 and 2040, while gas production is set to expand by 34 per cent, they said.

Canada “must end the development and export of new oil and gas reserves, and set a plan to quickly phase out existing production fields,” says the letter, written by Michael Hausfeld, the youth group’s legal counsel. “It must stop prioritizing short-term economic gains over the future of its children and all children around the world.”

Four of the young people, represented by international law firm Hausfeld, come from the tiny Pacific island countries of the Marshall Islands and Palau, where rising sea levels risk inundating limited habitable lands, and where sources of freshwater used for growing food have already been infiltrated with salt.

The others come from countries across the world, namely Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany, India, Nigeria, South Africa, Tunisia and the United States.

The pressure from Thunberg and the others adds to Canada’s growing legal challenges regarding climate inaction, with a group of 15 young Canadians filing a domestic lawsuit against Ottawa in October, while a separate group in Ontario took the Doug Ford government to court last month.

The letter was also copied to Trudeau’s new environment minister, Jonathan Wilkinson; Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations, Marc-André Blanchard; and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, David Boyd.

It asked that Trudeau respond within two weeks. His office passed a request for comment to Wilkinson’s office, which said the government had made a lot of progress over the last four years, including $63 billion of investments in green infrastructure and clean energy, while acknowledging much more still needed to be done.

“Young people and Canadians across the country are counting on us for accelerated action on climate change,” Moira Kelly, a spokeswoman for Wilkinson, wrote in an email. “We hear them, and all of the Canadians who sent a clear message this election, that continuing to fight climate change needs to be a priority.”

She said the government was committed to hitting the net-zero target for 2050, which it plans to write into law, and to exceed its 2030 targets under the Paris Agreement. To help it do so the government is pledging to plant 2 billion trees and create a $5 billion fund to electrify parts of the economy including the resource and manufacturing industries.

“We know we need to make a transition to a cleaner economy and we know that this will not happen overnight,” she said. “We are committed to taking thoughtful solutions with Canadians to ensure that the clean economy is affordable for everyone.” SOURCE

Math Still Missing For Trans Mountain Pipeline Tax Revenue Claim

There’s little clarity about how the government got to a $500-million figure.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau speaks to reporters as he arrives at a meeting with Liberal caucus members in Ottawa on Nov. 7, 2019. PATRICK DOYLE / REUTERS

OTTAWA — The federal government says the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion will bring another $500 million a year in corporate tax revenue to be spent on fighting climate change, but the Liberals won’t say where they got that number.

The figure was cited by the government when it approved the project a second time last June and was also included in the Liberals’ campaign platform.

In 2018, the government stepped in to buy the existing pipeline between Alberta and the B.C. coast from Kinder Morgan Canada for $4.5 billion. The company and its investors got cold feet about proceeding as political opposition to the pipeline threatened unending delays, so Ottawa bought it. The government intends to see through the expansion and then sell it back to the private sector.

Under heavy criticism from environmentalists for pushing a major pipeline project at the same time as they’ve insisted on the need to slash greenhouse-gas emissions, the Liberals promised any new revenue from the expansion project, including corporate taxes, will be spent only on climate-change mitigation. That includes natural solutions like tree planting and clean technology projects.

Matthew Barnes, a spokesperson for Finance Minister Bill Morneau, said in an email Monday the $500-million figure was a “Finance Canada estimate based on the additional corporate tax revenue that the federal government could receive from the successful completion and operation of TMX.”

British Columbia-based economist Robyn Allan, who is skeptical about the benefits of the expansion project, said she has not been able to get the government to explain the figure for months and is accusing the government of obstructing the information because the analysis won’t hold up to scrutiny.

“If they can’t tell you how it was derived it really begs the question if there is any substance to it at all,” she said.

She is also demanding the government tell Canadians what the expansion is going to cost to build. The last estimate was $7.4 billion but that figure is now several years old and hasn’t been updated since the federal government bought the pipeline. SOURCE

Andrew Coyne: ‘There’ll be hell to pay’ if a coalition government cancels TMX pipeline

In conversation with host Larysa Harapyn, the National Post columnist says this is the closest election since 1972

“Right now, the Liberals and the NDP don’t have enough (seats) together to form a government. If the Greens are involved, it’s hard to see how that pipeline gets built. And if that’s the case, you have some real issues for the country.”




Trans Mountain approval eases oilpatch angst, for now

The Trudeau government’s hypocrisy is breathtaking: declaring a climate emergency and within days  quickly approving the TransMountain pipeline expansion that will dramatically lock in a huge increase in emissions for years (if it is ever built).

Fear of further delays persist, despite another endorsement from Ottawa

Hundreds of pipes are stacked at a storage yard for the Trans Mountain expansion project, near Hope, B.C. (Kyle Bakx/CBC)

After the Trans Mountain expansion project was approved the first time, Ray Zervini ordered extra inventory, hired more staff, and considered expanding store hours. Considering the sheer size of the multi-billion dollar project, he ramped up his business as the shop is listed as one of Trans Mountain’s preferred suppliers in the area.

“There’s just an enormous amount of opportunity for us to sell product for this project,” said Zervini, president of Canyon Cable in Hope, B.C.

Of course, construction never did begin in earnest after the federal government first approved the project in 2016. Many of those supplies, like specialized welding rods, are collecting dust on store shelves and Zervini has had to adjust work schedules for his employees. Store hours were never extended.

Speaking before the second approval of the pipeline by the federal government Tuesday, Zervini said the delays have been frustrating. Like many in the oilpatch, he’s anxious to see pipes put in the ground.

“We’ll be ecstatic,” said Zervini. “It’s good for our business, it’s good for our community of Hope and it’s going to be good for the economy around here.”

For an industry that’s felt like it’s been stuck in neutral, or worse, for several years now, Tuesday’s news was welcomed as a step forward — even for those who still see a long journey ahead for the industry’s recovery.

“The approval of the pipeline is a positive development,” said David Yager, an energy industry consultant and a former chairman of the Petroleum Services Association of Canada.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a long-awaited announcement regarding the decision on the Trans Mountain Expansion Project on Tuesday. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

“I just don’t think people fully understand how deep the hole is that we’re trying to dig our way out of. It’s the first five rungs on a hundred-rung ladder.”

The project has been met with strong resistance from the B.C. government, environmental groups and some Indigenous communities along the route. Among their concerns are the increased tanker traffic, pipeline leaks and climate change.



Trudeau Declared a Climate Crisis, then Backed Trans Mountain Again
How the Trudeau government responded to an oilpatch plan
Why we’ll be talking about the Trans Mountain pipeline for a long while yet