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We have to protect all of the world’s rainforests, not just tropical rainforests

By Alys Granados

May 2017

Most of us have heard about how rainforests are in trouble and the rapid rate at which we are losing these spectacular ecosystems, along with the incredible diversity of species that depend on them. Globally, most of these reports focus on tropical rainforests and there has been too little awareness about the fate of temperate rainforests. Close to home, very few know that the remaining old-growth forest on Vancouver Island is disappearing faster than natural tropical rainforests.

Few of us have the opportunity to visit tropical forests in person, which can make us feel disconnected from the problems of deforestation and degradation of tropical countries. I am extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to work in tropical rainforests over the past seven years, as part of my graduate work in wildlife ecology. Most of this has been in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo where I investigated how selective logging disrupts interactions between trees and mammals.

Central Walbran Valley. Photo: TJ Watt.

The loss of intact tropical forests continues to be a serious threat. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) recently estimated that globally, ten per cent of the remaining primary forests in tropical rainforest countries were lost between 1990 and 2015. These forests are home to many species which exist nowhere else on the planet and protecting their habitats is critical to their survival. Further, the livelihood of millions of people depends on intact forests and they play an important role in mitigating the effects of climate change by storing massive amounts of carbon.

While all of this may be well known to many, few of us in Canada realize just how fast old-growth rainforest is being logged on Vancouver Island. I was very shocked to learn from recent Sierra Club BC data that over that same period (1990 to 2015), thirty per cent of the remaining old-growth forest on Vancouver Island was logged. In other words, the rate of loss of so-called “primary forests” (forests that were largely undisturbed by human activity) on Vancouver Island is actually three times greater than in the tropics.  In the last few years the rate of old-growth logging on the Island has actually increased by twelve per cent to 9,000 hectares per year (25 hectares a day).

So what’s behind this forest loss? Similar to the tropics, logging plays a central role. One difference is that in many tropical countries logging often results in deforestation, while in other countries such as Canada logging generally leads to the replacement of rich ancient forests with even-aged young forest. Much of the old-growth forest on Vancouver Island has already been lost to clearcut logging and the remaining patches of old-growth (called variable retention by foresters) are too small to maintain enough habitat for species that depend on old-growth forest.

Logging in East Creek on Vancouver Island. Photo: Mark Worthing.

In response to the Sierra Club BC data, the BC government stated that it is misleading to compare the problem in tropical countries to Vancouver Island, because in British Columbia logging companies are required by law to reforest logged areas. While this is true, old-growth ecosystems with trees that are many hundreds of years of age are not growing back at a meaningful timescale and climate change means we will never see the same type of forest grow back in the first place.

Species that rely on old-growth forest such as the marbled murrelet are negatively affected by the loss of old forest stands. In addition, the resulting large areas of young trees are not offering the type of habitat that most of the typical plants and animals on Vancouver Island depend on.

Similar to tropical forests, coastal temperate forests play an important role storing carbon dioxide. In fact a single hectare of temperate rainforest can store up to 1000 tonnes of carbon, a much greater amount than most tropical rainforests. Even if replanting is carried out, along the coast it can take centuries for reforested areas to reach a similar capacity in carbon storage potential as that of intact old-growth forest stands.

Tropical forest loss rightfully deserves the attention it gets, and we are lucky here in BC to have equally amazing rainforest habitat. Given that we are living in a relatively rich part of the world compared to many tropical countries, it is remarkable that we are failing to do a better job of protecting the remaining rare and endangered ancient forests on Vancouver Island and inspire other parts of the world. Coastal temperate rainforests exist only in very small areas on the planet and very little intact areas are left. Solutions exist, for example, in the Great Bear Rainforest north of Vancouver Island. Increasing the area of forest protected and halting destructive logging practices are both vital to ensuring the continued survival of these ecosystems and for a diverse economy. They should be a primary concern to us all.

Alys Granados

Alys Granados is a PhD student in zoology at UBC. She is working as an Intern for Sierra Club BC under UBC’s Biodiversity Research: Integrative Training & Education (BRITE) program. For her PhD, Alys is studying the effects of selective logging on plants and mammals in Malaysian Borneo. Previously, Alys completed a Masters at Concordia University in QC, where she studied park-people interactions in relation to human-elephant conflict in Cameroon. As an intern with Sierra Club, Alys will help with efforts to increase awareness about threats facing old growth forests on Vancouver Island. 

 

Feature image by Andrew S. Wright

Pay up, Chevron: BC cities, towns challenged to hold fossil fuel industry accountable for climate impacts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 25, 2017

VANCOUVER, BC, Coast Salish Territories – More than 50 community groups from across BC have signed onto an open letter arguing that fossil fuel companies owe BC communities for their fair share of the impacts of climate change. The letter was delivered to all 190 municipalities and regional districts in BC, asking them to demand accountability from the fossil fuel industry, up to and including considering lawsuits against Chevron and other big fossil fuel companies.

“Fighting climate change only works when everyone does their fair share. The fossil fuel industry expects communities to pay the costs to adapt and rebuild from climate impacts, while they pocket hundreds of billions of dollars of profits,” said Andrew Gage, Staff Counsel with West Coast Environmental Law. “When communities demand accountability from fossil fuel companies, the industry will finally have an incentive to get out of the way of those who want to build a sustainable future – or, better yet, to start working with us.”

The open letter references the work of carbon accountant Richard Heede, who has calculated that pollution from the operations and products of the three largest fossil fuel companies alone (Chevron, Exxon and Saudi Aramco) represent almost 10% of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere today. Just 90 entities – mostly fossil fuel companies – are responsible for about 2/3 of the historic greenhouse gas emissions.

Montana Burgess, Executive Director of the West Kootenay EcoSociety signed on to the letter because her rural region is already experiencing the impacts of carbon pollution.

“Thanks to global fossil fuel pollution, our communities are having to prepare for winters with less snow and much more rain. We’ve seen how this creates landslides, drought and forest fires at home, in the West Kootenays. Right now, ordinary people are paying for these costly disasters. Each community needs to do its part to transition off fossil fuels and get onto 100% renewable energy, but until Chevron, Exxon and the other big oil companies take responsibility for the harm caused by their products, we won’t get there on the global scale,” Burgess said.

The signatories to the letter – which include representatives of the environmental, health, human rights, women’s rights and faith sectors – point out that BC communities are already paying significant costs for the impacts of climate change. In addition to direct impacts – such as wildfires, flooding and the destruction of forests by the mountain pine beetle – communities also faced with the costs of preparing for expected impacts, such as paying to build infrastructure that can withstand rising sea levels, extreme weather, droughts and other climate impacts.

The Province of BC has estimated that Metro Vancouver Municipalities will need to spend $9.5 billion between now and 2100 to address rising sea-levels (about $100 million per year on average).

West Coast Environmental Law and many of the signatories are hoping to engage with and support local governments who pursue fossil fuel company accountability. West Coast has launched a website – climatelawinourhands.org – providing resources to help local governments draft letters to the fossil fuel industry, including template letters and fossil fuel company addresses. West Coast is also offering local governments legal research and support related to possible litigation against the fossil fuel companies.

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View the open letter to BC local governments

 

For more information, please contact:

 

Andrew Gage | Legal Counsel, West Coast Environmental Law

604-601-2506 (Vancouver) or 250-412-9784 (Victoria), andrew_gage@wcel.org

 

Anjali Appadurai | Climate Communications Specialist, West Coast Environmental Law

604-601-2504, anjali_appadurai@wcel.org

 

 

Quotes from signatories around the province:

“If the fossil fuel industry is prepared to endanger the integrity of creation by contributing so directly to changing the climate of the planet, they should at least be equally prepared to hold themselves accountable. Some of their profits come at the expense of communities and they should pay those costs.”

– Robert Hart, Knox United Church, Terrace

“Just as the tobacco companies are being forced to pay for the health costs they tried to hide, fossil fuel companies will be held to account for the damages from climate change. With a climate denier in the White House, it is now more important than ever for Canadians to take on a leadership role in forcing carbon polluters to stop putting communities at risk and to pay for the harm already being felt.”

– Keith Stewart, Greenpeace Canada

“Local governments are already on the front lines dealing with climate impacts like wildfires and drought. Making polluters pay will relieve the burden on local taxpayers and businesses.”

– Caitlyn Vernon, Sierra Club BC

“Protecting our environment is one of the ways we protect our health and that of future generations. British Columbia has an important responsibility to all Canadians to ensure that our energy policies are good for the health of populations and the planet. ”

– Cecelia Velasco, Public Health Association of BC

“For too long pollution profiteers have ignored climate change while expecting the rest of us to pay the tab. Now it’s time for them to pay up. Adapting to a warming world will cost BC communities billions of dollars — an impossible price tag that would rob us of money for transit, parks and just about everything else. Taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for the fossil fuel industry’s willful negligence.”

– Peter McCartney, Wilderness Committee

“The fossil fuel industry began in earnest 150 years ago. But times have changed, and now we’ve run the course with fossil fuels, and it’s time to move on to better forms of energy, because now the harms far exceed the benefits. Those who cling to the old ways need to be persuaded that they must do their part to bring about this transition. If persuasion fails, then legal action is the obvious next step.”

– Warren Bell, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment

“As people committed to the life and teachings of Jesus, we are challenged by his readiness to call the powerful to be accountable for their misuse and abuse of power. In the same spirit, we believe fossil fuel industries which profit from intensive greenhouse gas emissions should be financially accountable for the effects they are causing on our climate and the world’s poorest and most vulnerable. We encourage other people of faith and concerned citizens across BC to join hands in demanding these companies take responsibility for causing harmful climate impacts.”

– Jason Wood, EarthKeepers

“Climate change will affect all of us, and it will certainly affect salmon and the communities they feed. We urge our local governments to exercise every tool available, including the law, to demand accountability from the fossil fuel industry.”

– Heather Forbes, Salmon Coast Field Station Society

“Fossil fuel companies reap enormous profits from the remains of the ancient creatures and plants that they dig out of the ground as oil or other fossil fuels. The cost of cleaning up the mess left behind is usually paid for by the public. This is an untenable situation and the fossil fuel companies know it. They should be required to provide compensation for the costs associated with the environmental effects of their activities which contribute to the ever more extreme climate which the planet is suffering.”

– Gayle Neilson, Sunshine Coast Conservation Association

Green Jobs BC: Working together toward a just transition

By Tim Pearson

January 5 2016

The health of our economy cannot be separated from the health of our environment.

The myth that we have to choose between the two is peddled by forces opposed to increased environmental protection and effective climate action—forces that stand to profit from destructive megaprojects and the endless extraction of finite resources.

And let’s face it—they have been quite successful at it: the myth endures.

So it’s worth asking ourselves, have we been unwittingly perpetuating it, instead of undermining it?

Jobs Today, Jobs Tomorrow: BC's Green Jobs Conference 2016. Photo courtesy of Green Jobs BC.

Jobs Today, Jobs Tomorrow: BC’s Green Jobs Conference 2016. Photo courtesy of Green Jobs BC.

When we, as environmental voices, focus too much on what we are against—be it the logging of old growth, or fracking, or an oil pipeline—and neglect to talk about what we are for, we play into the hands of our opponents. We are then pitted against resource-dependent communities, the unemployed, underemployed and marginalized, and those who fear for their economic security.

The media build this narrative by highlighting stories featuring conflict, as this is what attracts the audience they want.

Environmentalists—often disproportionately urban, middle class and white—have been successfully caricatured as a privileged cohort who can “afford” to oppose development, while less fortunate folks must suffer the consequences in the form of lost opportunities and jobs.

And yet the reality is that we are all in this climate change boat together. To steer a new course we need everyone’s skills and expertise, solutions that work for everyone, and everyone’s buy-in and support.

justtransition_sidebarTo achieve long-lasting solutions, we need to build a broad and sustainable political consensus on the need for action. All of society needs to work together for a future that supports sustainable jobs in a healthy environment, a future that leaves no-one behind.

That’s why Sierra Club BC’s participation on the Steering Committee of Green Jobs BC is so important.

Green Jobs BC is a coalition of environmental organizations and organized labour. The coalition shares a vision of an inclusive, sustainable economy that provides good jobs, is socially just, protects the environment and reduces carbon emissions.

Late in November, I attended the Green Jobs BC conference in New Westminster.

Some of the most interesting discussions I had there were around the concept of a “just transition” to a post-carbon economy. What is a just transition?

A just transition means that the burden of change will not be placed disproportionately on a few.

It means that those who are most vulnerable to change will be protected.

It means that the process of shifting to a post-carbon economy will increase social justice for workers, women, the poor, and all oppressed groups.

A just transition is essential to achieve and maintain the broad political consensus necessary to allow climate protection policies to work in the long run.

Many attendees from organized labour pointed out to me that all too often mere lip service is paid to the concept of just transition.

Irene Lanzinger, President of the B.C. Federation of Labour, asked me what I think would happen if a displaced worker who used to earn $40 an hour was told they will get retraining, but that training qualifies them for work that pays half as much. Well, pretty clearly, that worker isn’t going to buy into this plan. That worker will see the transition as anything but just for him or her and their family.

This is one of the reasons why we as a society have to take the concerns of workers seriously as we tackle climate change. And that is why environmentalists, labour and social justice advocates must work together, just as we are through Green Jobs BC.

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Jobs Today, Jobs Tomorrow: BC’s Green Jobs Conference 2016. Photo courtesy of Green Jobs BC.

We need to find climate solutions in which workers in all parts of the province can see a secure future for themselves; a shared vision that will inspire all of us to put our shoulder to the wheel and make happen.

How do we do that? Those of us who identify more as ‘environmentalist’ than ‘worker’ can start by listening and learning, to ensure that what we are asking for is more inclusive. We can study labour history, and learn the ways that unions have improved the rights of all workers over the decades. We can organize in our communities in ways that build relationships with union locals, incorporate diverse views and voices into the changes we are calling for, and invite workers to our events and rallies. In turn, we can start showing up in support on picket lines or finding other ways to show our solidarity.

The exploitation of the environment is intimately tied to the exploitation of workers. The quest for profit above all other values has driven the erosion of worker rights just as surely as it has the erosion of environmental protections.

“Nothing about us without us” is organized labour’s refrain. When we as environmentalists include workers in our discussions, strategizing and actions (and vice versa), we will build dialogue, trust and ultimately a powerful alliance.

And out of that alliance we can build the broad political consensus necessary to allow climate protection policies to work in the long run.

Sierra Club BC response to US election results

A message from Executive Director Bob Peart

November 9. 2016

 

The sun rose today, as it always does, but we woke up to a profoundly changed world.

I can feel that change in my heavy heart. I feel it as sadness, as fear, as uncertainty, and often as anger.

A Trump presidency casts a frightening shadow over women, First Nations, people of colour, immigrants, the LGBTQ community and those whose faith sets them apart. It casts a shadow over Canada and generations to come.

We must all take care of ourselves and our family, friends, neighbours and co-workers. We must grieve for what has been lost and for what is to come. We will all do this in our own ways. For me, getting out into nature always helps.

It will take time. But we cannot grieve for long.

We need to respond to this changed world.

Trump will be the only head of state in the entire world who denies that human activity is causing climate change. He wants to abandon the Paris agreement. He will open the door to the Keystone XL pipeline getting built.

Our path to a post carbon world, in which humans and the natural world can prosper together, has undoubtedly become harder. But we must double down on our resolve to forge that path.

Our national and provincial governments will be challenged by the reality of a Trump presidency. They may be tempted to believe they can get away with more, because they’ll still look good compared to Trump.

That can’t be allowed to happen. Trump’s presidency cannot be license to backslide. We need to make sure our governments respond in ways that are good for nature, good for our climate, and good for our collective future.

We need to keep their feet to the fire. Now more than ever.

We will need to strengthen the coalitions in which we work. We will need to strengthen the bonds that we forge with our friends and allies. We will need to work with and stand up for those who are most threatened by this new reality.

Sierra Club BC has made a profound impact on B.C. over its 47 years. We have seen presidents, prime ministers and premiers come and go. There have been huge victories, such as the Great Bear Rainforest, and there have been setbacks and darker times.

But know this: if we work hard and work smart, we can be successful in defending nature. We can be successful in stabilizing the climate. And we can be successful in transitioning to a prosperous post-carbon world.

So yes, let us take some time to mourn and to look after each other. But then let’s organize, and let’s grow the grassroots power and solidarity that we need for this fight.

To be strong and resilient in the face of daunting challenges, now—more than ever—we need your support. Our world has been profoundly changed. And I know we are up to the task of responding.

Please make a donation today to help us act.

Thank you.

Bob Peart, Executive Director

Sierra Club BC

Kinder Morgan panel report raises crucial questions for cabinet

By Caitlyn Vernon

November 3, 2016

Do you remember those hastily-arranged, poorly-organized meetings that the federal government set up in the dog days of August to get input on the Kinder Morgan pipeline and tankers proposal?

You know, the meetings in which an ad hoc ministerial panel was charged with the task of compensating for the enormous shortcomings of the National Energy Board’s process, conducted under the Harper government? The meetings at which 91.4 per cent of speakers opposed Kinder Morgan?

Well, the panel released its report this week, and it raises a series of crucial questions for the federal cabinet. Simply put, these questions make approval impossible.

The panel asked that Cabinet consider how building this pipeline can be reconciled with Canada’s climate change commitments. Spoiler alert: it can’t—you can’t build pipelines and be a climate leader. End of story.

#StopKM rally in Victoria

Rally at the summer meeting in Victoria. Photo by Kat Zimmer.

The panel also asked how cabinet could square approval with a federal commitment to reconciliation with First Nations. Again, you can’t, given the numerous First Nations who adamantly oppose this project.

The panel pointed out recent oil spills and the inadequacy of response and suggested that “the Government must decide whether the Trans Mountain Pipeline is a worthwhile risk.”

The panel asked how the federal cabinet can be confident of its decision given the flaws in the NEB process and public criticism of the ministerial panel’s own review. Good question.

The reality is that the report from the Ministerial Panel does not provide the basis for Cabinet approval of Kinder Morgan. We can only imagine how Prime Minister Trudeau, Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr, and Environment & Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna are scrambling to figure out how to spin this.

In fact, approving this project would be abandoning Canada’s commitment to real climate action, would impose a death sentence on the southern resident orca population and would invite ecological and economic disaster in the form of an inevitable tanker spill.

The Ministerial Panel report makes clear that there is no way to approve this pipeline without undermining commitments on climate and indigenous rights.

If cabinet takes the report’s questions seriously and bases its decision on the best available science, there is no way this pipeline will be built.

And yet rationality has been lacking lately. It’s distinctly possible that the federal government will announce approval in the next few weeks, just as it approved the Petronas fracked gas plant and the Site C megadam (which will power the fracking fields in the Peace), and just as it adopted the grossly inadequate emissions targets of the Harper government.

But stay tuned, because along with the 91.4% of people who voiced their opposition to the panel, we aren’t going anywhere. This is our home, and the fight is far from over.

Please donate today to help us keep up the fight.

Feature image by Gerry Gaydos.

Kinder Morgan report raises questions that make pipeline approval impossible

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

November 3, 2016

Victoria, B.C.—Sierra Club BC released the following statement from campaigns director Caitlyn Vernon.

“The report by the ministerial panel, released today by Natural Resources Canada, highlights the failures of the NEB process and raises a series of crucial questions for cabinet’s consideration.

“These questions make approval impossible.

“In answer to the panel’s question about climate change, the science is clear: building this pipeline would make it impossible to meet Canada’s climate commitments. You can’t build pipelines and be a climate leader.

“Regarding the panel’s question about how cabinet could square approval with a federal commitment to reconciliation with First Nations, the answer can be found in the numerous First Nations who firmly oppose this project.

“The panel also raises the question of how cabinet can be confident in an assessment based in a process full of flaws, both the NEB process and the ministerial panel meetings themselves.

“The panel asks—given recent spills and the inadequacy of spill response—whether this pipeline and tankers project is worth the risk.

“They also note the evidence presented to the NEB that the project would have significant impact on southern resident killer whales that are protected under the federal Species at Risk Act.

“This panel was no remedy for a flawed NEB process, and this report does not provide the basis for a federal cabinet approval.

“Approving this project would be abandoning our commitment to real climate action, imposing a death sentence on the southern resident orca population and inviting ecological and economic disaster in the form of an inevitable tanker spill.

“If cabinet takes these questions seriously and bases its decision on the best available science, there is no way this pipeline will be built.”

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See attached backgrounder for a summary of flaws in the ministerial panel processes.

 

Contact:

Tim Pearson

Director of Communications, Sierra Club BC

250-896-1556

tim@sierraclub.bc.ca

 

Backgrounder:

The problems that Sierra Club BC and other organizations have identified with the ministerial panel’s approach include the following:

Lack of clear mandate

  • Panel had no mandate to make recommendations based on their findings, and therefore no clarity for participants on how the government would use the information it compiled, how it would be compiled, or how it might impact Cabinet decision-making.

Inadequate outreach to key participants

  • Some local First Nations leaders and municipal officials only heard about the meetings through Facebook and other unofficial channels, while others were informed on short notice.
  • Meetings of “experts” were scheduled, but no outreach was made to experts who had concerns about the project. They were left to self-identify.

Panelist conflict of interest/perception of bias

  • Panel Chair Kim Baird had a past business relationship with the proponent, was a registered LNG lobbyist, and penned a pro-pipeline op-ed in a national newspaper while the panel process was underway.

Unreasonable, late stage interference in submissions process

  • Approximately 55,000 people submitted comments and letters, but 2 days before the comment deadline, the Panel sent letters to numerous individuals and citizens’ groups that said they would not consider repetitive letters initiated by third parties. The B.C. Civil Liberties Association found this “dismissal is an unreasonable interference in expression of freedom of individuals and their participation in a public consultation process.” After the BCCLA letter, the NEB reversed its decision, but the experience left participants with a continued sense of government bias against citizens opposed to the proposal.

Poor Meeting Organization

  • Meetings were announced on short notice in the middle of summer. The online process to register was cumbersome and a deterrent to participation.
  • Locations in many communities were difficult to access and no provisions were made to make access easier. Due to time and room capacity limitations, hundreds of attendees were not able to participate.
  • No translation was available for French-speaking participants until the last 2 days of meetings.
  • No official records (no stenographer or audio-video recordings) were taken and the Panel’s mandate was broad and poorly defined, amplifying concerns of process bias.

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Federal Approval of Petronas: A betrayal of salmon and climate

October 3, 2016

For months, we have been asking whether Prime Minister Trudeau would side with B.C.’s wild salmon and a liveable climate, or with foreign multinationals who just see B.C. as a place to exploit for profit.

Sadly, his choice became clear last week, with the federal government’s announcement that it has approved the Petronas fracked gas plant at Lelu Island.

This is terrible news for salmon populations on the Skeena River. The plant is slated to be built right next to the river’s estuary, a nursery for hundreds of millions of juvenile salmon. Canada’s second largest salmon run may have just had its death warrant signed by the federal government.

The approval of Petronas is also very bad news for the climate. The Petronas fracked gas plant is a carbon bomb that will make it impossible for B.C. to meet its already weak climate targets. This plant alone would be responsible for an astonishing 11.5 to 14.0 megatonnes of climate pollution per year, equivalent to five times the official reported emissions for all of B.C. As the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency has noted, the climate impacts of the plant would be “high in magnitude, continuous, irreversible and global in extent.”

Simply put, expanding the extraction of fracked gas is incompatible with limiting global warming to 1.5 to 2⁰C.

Canadians who voted for action on climate change want real commitments and real action, not just empty promises of sunny ways. Placing conditions on the approval won’t add up to concrete action against climate change. Instead, the conditions are a rubber stamp on new fossil fuel infrastructure that feigns a rigorous approval process.

It has been almost one year since Canadians elected a government with a mandate to take real action on climate change, but it is increasingly difficult to distinguish the Trudeau government’s climate change action from those of the Harper government. The federal government has now adopted the woefully inadequate Harper-era emissions targets—a slap in the face to all Canadians who wanted to see bold action.

We need to safeguard our environment while pushing our economy into transition toward a post-carbon future of green jobs. Now is the time for transition to renewables, not the time for building more climate-polluting projects.

This decision is not the end of the story. Petronas says it will review the project to see if it’s financially viable before deciding whether or not to proceed. And First Nations are considering legal challenges.

Sierra Club BC will continue to highlight the dangers posed by Petronas, its incompatibility with decreasing global demand for fossil fuels, and the benefits of the alternatives. We’ll also continue to push for both the federal and provincial governments to include a rigorous climate test in all future environmental assessments, so this kind of climate-killing approval can never happen in the future. In the process, we will help build the case for Petronas to walk away.

Please donate today to help us continue our work on climate solutions.

Kinder Morgan faces wall of opposition in BC

When the Canadian government decided to throw together last-minute public meetings on the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline during the height of summer, they seemed to hope the meetings would float serenely under the radar.

Packed Victoria town hall on August 23. Photo by Kat Zimmer.

Packed Victoria town hall on August 23. Photo by Kat Zimmer.

The meetings were poorly promoted and the timelines were inadequate to allow people to properly prepare presentations. The locations weren’t clear and the meeting structure and online process to register were unwieldly and off-putting. Several meeting dates changed and more dates were added due to an outcry about some communities being excluded. The meetings had an ad hoc feel and it wasn’t clear to anyone how the government would use the information it compiled, or even how it would be compiled. Local First Nations told us they heard about the meetings only because organizations such as Sierra Club B.C. alerted them.

Despite all this, it was genuinely inspiring and heartening to see a passionate determination on the part of ordinary citizens to have their voices heard and to stand up for this coast. About 400 people showed up to the Victoria public meeting, many driving several hours to be there. Yet more than 100 people were shut out of the room, denied their chance to be heard.

In all the meetings, 418 people were opposed, with only 39 speaking in favour – a decisive 91.4 per cent against Kinder Morgan’s proposal. In addition, 17 First Nations were opposed, as were 21 local governments.

Over 100 people were shut out of the Victoria town hall. Photo by Kat Zimmer.

100+ people shut out of the Victoria town hall. Photo by Kat Zimmer.

 

The federal government had billed these meetings as an effort to compensate for the multiple shortcomings of the original National Energy Board hearings. The NEB recommended approval of the pipeline and tankers proposal despite widespread opposition.

Sources close to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau say he is determined to approve a pipeline – and Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain is the likeliest candidate. We can’t let the federal government use this latest panel to provide an air of legitimacy to the NEB’s deeply flawed process.

Prime Minister Trudeau has said that “governments grant permits, communities grant permission”. With each of the meetings along the pipeline and tanker route, it became more and more clear that permission has not been granted. British Columbians prefer a commitment to real Sunny Ways, without the fossil fuel haze and economic malaise of the Kinder Morgan pipeline.

The public meetings provide the Prime Minister with an excellent opportunity to make a change in policy direction. His government now has community backing to drop its support for Kinder Morgan and bring Canada’s economic policy into alignment with his commitments on climate. Their mandate to move boldly and decisively on climate and the economy has been confirmed. The climate math is strikingly simple: It is not possible to be a climate leader and build tar sands pipelines.

Saying no to Kinder Morgan would be to say yes to our Paris climate commitments, to protection of BC’s environment and economy from the threat of catastrophic pipeline and tanker spills and to repositioning BC and Canada as job-growth leaders in the emerging renewable energy economy.

VIDEO: Victoria environmental roundtable on August 23, courtesy of Ed Johnson at the Saanich Report

At 4:40, our climate & energy campaigner Larissa Stendie takes on the impossibility of spill response and the panel’s bias.

At 19:00, our campaigns director Caitlyn Vernon talks about the climate change implications of the pipeline.

 

Featured image (Top): Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps spoke at a large, peaceful action outside the Victoria townhall organized by Sierra Club BC, Wilderness Committee, and Greenpeace. Photo by Kat Zimmer.

 

Petronas, fracking and Site C: the connection

The links between Petronas, fracking and Site C are becoming clear—and the news is troubling for taxpayers and our climate. British Columbians will be subsidizing the fracking industry through the construction of the Site C megadam.

B.C.’s climate fraud: A Trojan horse for destructive LNG pipedreams

B.C.’s so-called climate plan is a fraud. It borders on a criminal betrayal of the health and welfare of future generations and the natural world. A credible plan would act decisively to rapidly reduce the extraction, export and use of fossil fuels.