Time to turn the symbolism and rhetoric around Paris into real action

Governments must turn the page on the fossil fuel era


 April 21, 2016

VICTORIA—As Canada signs the Paris agreements tomorrow, the federal government must swiftly move beyond symbolic gestures and high-flown rhetoric into urgent climate action. That action simply cannot be undermined by more pipelines.

“With the last 11 consecutive months the hottest in recorded history, 2016 is on track to be the year we surpass 1.5⁰C of warming,” said Larissa Stendie, climate and energy campaigner with Sierra Club BC. “If Prime Minister Trudeau’s actions matched his rhetoric, the Kinder Morgan and Energy East pipelines would be non-starters, yet he has given every indication he favours proceeding with these suicidal ventures.

“Credible action on climate cannot include exporting emissions to other countries, as if so-called ‘downstream’ emissions simply didn’t exist. The fact is, we are all ‘downstream’ when those same emissions turbocharge the growing climate crisis.”

A recent media report suggested that Prime Minister Trudeau had ordered plans to be drawn up around approving the Kinder Morgan and Energy East pipeline proposals. Such a stance would be consistent with the Prime Minister’s oft-stated support for getting Canada’s tarsands to foreign markets.

New research has shown that the fossil fuel era could be over in as little as ten years, if governments commit to the right policy measures. As other governments move more decisively, Canada risks being left behind, missing the huge opportunities for jobs and prosperity that are offered in renewable energy and a truly climate-friendly economy. Fossil fuel projects such as pipelines, tar sands, and LNG terminals will become stranded assets, with our economy and workers suffering as a result.

Here in British Columbia, the provincial government must also up its game from unsupported boasts of climate leadership and shift into real action. That means abandoning its irresponsible push to build an LNG industry that will be just as damaging to our climate as tarsands pipelines. Studies have shown fracked gas is as bad as coal when it comes to emissions. LNG plants and pipelines, and the Site C dam that has no reason to exist except to power the industry, have no place in a serious approach to climate.

“Workers who depend on fossil fuels for their livelihoods deserve government action that will give them economic security into the future, not bridges to nowhere,” said Stendie. “We have seen what the collapse of the price of oil has done for workers in Alberta. The solution is not to double down on a losing bet—it’s to give workers the opportunity to transition to steady, local work that gives them a chance to pay their mortgages and send their kids to school in a stable, healthy climate.”



Larissa Stendie

Climate and Energy Campaigner

Sierra Club BC