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Expansion of LNG and fracking derail climate action
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 7, 2020
VANCOUVER/UNCEDED xʷməθkwəy̓əm (MUSQUEAM), Skwxwú7mesh (SQUAMISH) AND Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (TSLEIL-WAUTUTH) TERRITORIES – The province of British Columbia has missed its own deadline to complete the CleanBC plan, another in a long string of broken promises on climate action. The government had promised to unveil additional climate actions to meet its 2030 target by December 5, 2020. Despite Premier Horgan’s repeated assurances that Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) projects will not proceed unless they can be shown to fit within B.C.’s climate plan, this missed deadline makes it clear the government is unable to show how these projects are compatible with climate action.
“Environmental groups welcomed the announcement of CleanBC two years ago, but cautioned that the plan only provided a strategy for 75 – 80 per cent of the 2030 target,” said Alan Andrews, the climate program director at Ecojustice. “By failing to finalize CleanBC on time and as promised, this government has tripped at the first hurdle. For all its talk of climate leadership and emissions targets, B.C. isn’t going to address climate change without a comprehensive plan to do so.”
“B.C. has missed every climate target it has set for itself and now is refusing to come clean on the impact of LNG on meeting its 2030 – let alone 2040 and 2050 – targets. CleanBC and the Climate Change Accountability Act was supposed to put an end to this cycle of broken promises,” said Andrew Gage, staff lawyer with West Coast Environmental Law.
Two years in, the CleanBC plan still leaves B.C. more than 20 per cent short of its legally-binding 2030 target, a gap of at least 5.5 million tonnes of emissions. Much of that gap is made up of the 4 million tonnes of emissions associated with Phase One of the unbuilt LNG Canada export project. The organizations warned that the province’s growing subsidies and support for the oil and gas sector – primarily fracking and LNG exports – will continue to derail B.C.’s climate targets if not addressed. The oil and gas sector alone will exceed B.C.’s entire 2050 emissions target by over 160 per cent if fracking and LNG are allowed to expand.
“CleanBC has many effective measures in it and could be a strong climate plan, but Premier Horgan’s commitment to fracking and LNG fatally undermines it,” said Andrew Radzik, energy campaigner for Georgia Strait Alliance. “The province can’t blame the pandemic for this; they know what climate actions they need to introduce and have had plenty of time to do so. It’s time to stop propping up the oil and gas industry and get serious about climate change.”
“The province gave almost a billion dollars in subsidies to the oil and gas sector in 2019 and 2020, twice what the government spent on their plan to fight climate change.” said Sven Biggs, Canadian oil and gas program director at Stand.earth. “Fossil fuel subsidies have grown by a whopping 79 per cent during Premier Horgan’s term in office. It is difficult to see how this government will ever achieve their climate targets if they continue to heavily subsidize the very projects that are driving the increase in our emissions.”
“Our provincial government has a clear choice to make: Stand for a future that is just, equitable, and safe or stand with oil and gas. You can’t do both; it’s incompatible with climate science, B.C.’s emissions targets, and the goal of strengthened relationships with Indigenous peoples. In fact, many oil and gas projects in B.C. lack full consent from affected Indigenous communities,” said Anjali Appadurai, climate justice campaigner for Sierra Club BC.
The failure to finalize the plan is significant not only because it is another broken climate promise from a successive B.C. government, but because major emission reductions must happen this decade. In 2018, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that we must drastically reduce global emissions by 2030 to keep global warming below 1.5 C and avoid the worst impacts of climate change. B.C. is already experiencing climate-induced wildfires, smoke-filled skies, heat waves, and sea level rise. These and other impacts will get worse as climate change progresses.
Ecojustice goes to court and uses the power of the law to defend nature, combat climate change, and fight for a healthy environment. Its strategic, innovative public interest lawsuits lead to legal precedents that deliver lasting solutions to Canada’s most urgent environmental problems. As Canada’s largest environmental law charity, Ecojustice operates offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, and Halifax.
Georgia Strait Alliance advocates for long-term, climate-forward solutions to marine and environmental threats to the Salish Sea. We acknowledge that our work takes place on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples.
Sierra Club BC is an environmental non-profit working to steward abundant ecosystems and a stable climate, while building resilient, equitable communities by reconnecting children and youth with nature, supporting grassroots-led climate action, and advocating for old-growth protection and a rapid shift away from fossil fuels.
Stand.earth (formerly ForestEthics) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with offices in Canada and the United States that is known for its groundbreaking research and successful corporate and citizens engagement campaigns to create new policies and industry standards in protecting forests, advocating the rights of Indigenous Peoples, and protecting the climate.
West Coast Environmental Law is a non-profit group of environmental lawyers and strategists dedicated to safeguarding the environment through law. Working with communities, non-governmental organizations, the private sector and all levels of government, West Coast is transforming environmental decision-making and strengthening legal protection for the environment through collaborative legal strategies that bridge Indigenous and Canadian law.
Emily Chan, Communications Strategist | Ecojustice
email@example.com, 1-800-926-7744 ext. 277
Andrew Radzik, Energy Campaigner | Georgia Strait Alliance
Anjali Appadurai, Climate Justice Campaigner | Sierra Club BC
Sven Biggs, Canadian Oil and Gas Program Director | Stand.earth
Andrew Gage, Staff Lawyer | West Coast Environmental Law
Photo by Leila Darwish
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Kwagu’ł & Lək̓ʷəŋən territories, November 5, 2020
Statement of solidarity with Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nations taking steps to end unfair, discriminatory trespassing by Western Forest Products on their lands
Sierra Club BC & Kwakwaka’wakw hereditary chiefs are standing in solidarity with Mike Maquinna, the Council of Chiefs of Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation and with affected communities of Tsaxana and Gold River. We denounce the reprehensible actions and sustained disrespect shown to the Mowachaht/Muchalaht people with the blatant trespassing on Ahaminaquus IR 12 by Western Forest Products (WFP) and the tacit provincial government approval evidenced by inaction on the matter.
For the entire 50-year lifespan of Sierra Club BC’s existence, the province of B.C. and successive logging operations have committed offenses under sections 30 and 31 of the Indian Act, namely trespassing. This is a shameful act that illustrates the arrogance WFP shows to the forest and the people who steward them.
If WFP wishes to log within Mowachaht/Muchalaht territory or any other territories they need to respect that the Mowachaht/Muchalaht are the keepers of the land, and therefore entitled to fair compensation. Moving forward, the Province and companies like WFP need to ensure all commercial operations seek out Free, Prior and Informed Consent in ways that uphold community-based sovereignty of First Nations on their territory.
Statement from Hereditary Chief David Mungo Knox, Walas ‘Numugwis, with the support of Hereditary Chief Calvin Hunt, Nas’am’yus:
“WFP has shown Kwagu’ł people their true colors. They care about their shareholders more than the forests and Indigenous people who steward them. It pains me to see WFP violating Mowachaht/Muchalaht territory as they also do here. We speak with one voice when we raise our voices in thanks to the Mowachaht/Muchalaht for asserting their rights.”
Statement from Chief Rande Cook, ‘Namgis Hereditary Chief An’anxwisa’gamayi, with the support of ‘Namgis hereditary Chief William Wasden Jr., Waxowidi; ‘Namgis hereditary Chief Ernest Alfred, Kwakwaba’las; Musgamagw Hereditary Chief K’odi Nelson, Maxwayalis who all have a traditional connection to the Mowachaht/Muchalaht people:
“The sacred Nimpkish River connects Kwakwaka’wakw and Nuu-Chah-Nulth people through ‘Namgis territory. The government and industry try to divide us so they can exploit our resources and lands but we have deep roots and family ties to the West Coast. The Mowachaht/Muchalaht struggle to be seen and respected, it is also a Kwakwaka’wakw struggle to be seen and respected and vice versa. A violation of Nuu-chah-nulth law is a violation against all Indigenous people. We know the damage that Western Forest Products has caused and we will remember the silence of the province who let it happen.”
Statement from Sierra Club BC’s Coastal Projects Lead Mark Worthing:
“Half a century of blatant trespass is a profoundly disturbing indication of colonial racism. It’s past time for WFP to pay reparations and for the colonial governments to prioritize this once and for all.”
Read the Council of Chiefs for the Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation’s media advisory here.
Mowachaht/Muchalaht Lands Manager
David Mungo Knox, Walas ‘Namugwis
Rande Cook, An’anxwisa’gamayi
Coastal Projects Lead, Sierra Club BC
Photo by Mya Van Woudenberg/Sierra Club BC
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 15, 2020
Sierra Club BC is deeply committed to honesty, integrity and accuracy. BC Forestry Alliance recently released a statement falsely accusing us of “relying on misstated facts and selectively omitting key information in a crass attempt to sway voters against forestry during the current B.C. election campaign.”
The BC Forestry Alliance takes issue with our claim that 500 plus soccer fields’ worth of old-growth are being clearcut every day across the province. We stand by this claim. Using provincial government data (Vegetation Resources Inventory and Consolidated Cutblocks) we found that 1,917,827 hectares of old-growth were logged between 2005 and 2017. This means an average of 147,525 hectares were logged per year, equaling on average more than 400 hectares per day. Soccer fields are commonly 0.714 hectares in size, meaning you could fit more than 500 soccer fields into the 400 hectares of old-growth that are logged per day across B.C. This the most recent data we have, and we have no indications that the rate of logging has changed in the last few years.
Sierra Club BC (SCBC) includes forests that are 140 to 250 years old in our mapping and data for the coastal region because these forests have most of the features of old-growth stands older than 250 years. As big trees older than 250 years become increasingly rare, trees aged 140 to 250 years become more important to protect as remaining habitat for old-growth dependent species like marbled murrelets and spotted owls. For the interior region, both SCBC and the province consider forests older than 140 years to be old-growth. Interior old-growth includes some very big trees, such as in the inland temperate rainforest, as well as smaller trees that also have high ecological values.
Very little of the last endangered old-growth ecosystems remain across the province, in both the coast and in the Interior. And much of what remains is rapidly being logged. We are facing an ecological crisis brought on by unsustainable practices that are putting our environment and the livelihood of communities at risk. Too much of the last intact, resilient and at risk old-growth forests is being logged, across the province. Within the context of respect for Indigenous law and jurisdiction, Sierra Club BC will continue to support efforts to protect the ecosystems, salmon, animals and communities that depend on these forests.
Gorley, A., Merkel, G. (2020). A NEW FUTURE FOR OLD FORESTS: A Strategic Review of How British Columbia Manages for Old Forests Within its Ancient Ecosystems
Wieting, J., Laversee, D. (2019). Clarcut Carbon: A Sierra Club BC report on the future of forests in British Columbia
Price, K., Holt, R. and Daust, D. (2020). BC’s Old Growth Forest: A Last Stand for Biodiversity https://veridianecological.files.wordpress.com/2020/05/bcs-old-growth-forest-report-web.pdf
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 11, 2020
Sierra Club BC and a hereditary leader from the Kwagu’ł nation react to the independent old-growth panel report and initial steps being taken by the B.C. government to protect some of province’s last remaining old–growth forest and a number of big trees.
Statement by Sierra Club BC senior forest and climate campaigner Jens Wieting:
“Today is an important day. Today’s announcement to defer logging in some endangered old-growth forests is a good step for the health and wellbeing of families in B.C. We are thrilled to see logging deferrals for the unprotected rainforests in Clayoquot Sound and a number of other critical areas, in support of Indigenous-led conservation solutions. Providing an opportunity to save the last of the old-growth forests is the right thing to do for our health, long-term jobs and the web of life.”
“Our initial assessment is that the independent old-growth panel’s recommendations offer a blueprint to safeguard B.C.’s endangered old-growth forests within three years. While we welcome these first steps, what’s missing from today’s announcement is a commitment to implement all of the report’s recommendations with full funding. We look forward to engaging with the province and Indigenous governments to make the full recommendations a reality.”
David Knox, Walas Numgwis, Kwagu’ł, offered this reaction:
“Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw people have watched successive governments and successive logging companies exploit our old–growth forests, degrade our wild salmon rivers and pay little credence to our culture or how we value our resources. Not a single stick of old–growth should have left Kwagu’ł territory in the last ten years. Yet we’ve seen heavy industrial exploitation of the ancient forests and given only crumbs in return. My hope is that we come together to create a better relationship with the forest. The work starts now and we’re ready.”
Sierra Club BC coastal projects lead Mark Worthing’s reaction:
“Government policies come and go with the political seasons, but it’s the land that ultimately keeps score. This is the first meaningful step we’ve seen that the current B.C. government is starting to recognize the value of ancient endangered forests. I remain hungry to see the on-the-ground outcomes in the sacred forests that are required for culture, climate and wildlife. The government has charted a path, but now they need to walk it.”
“I raise my hands to the good work done amongst the Indigenous nations who have deferred logging destruction in their territories.”
Statement by Sierra Club BC campaigns director Caitlyn Vernon:
“Big old-growth trees support our health and the safety of our communities; they provide all kinds of cultural and economic benefits including tourism jobs and clean drinking water. Pumping the brakes on logging some of the last old-growth to consider our options and work together to build back better can only be a good thing.”
“We will be looking to see government investment in the transition to truly sustainable second-growth forestry based around local, value-added manufacturing, so that our kids can grow up in a province that had the vision and foresight to save the last big trees.”
Regarding next steps, Vernon added, “It will be key to ensure discussions of the socio-economic implications of the report’s recommendations include the benefits of protecting the last of the big old trees, including their long-term value for culture and tourism, the value of their ecological services like clean drinking water, a stable climate and salmon habitat, and their services defending communities from worsening climate impacts like wildfires and flooding – impacts that could be mitigated by conserving intact forests.”
Polling commissioned by Sierra Club BC in the fall of 2019 showed over 90% of British Columbians support the B.C. government to take action to protect endangered old growth forests. Ongoing blockades of logging roads and hunger strikes this summer illustrate the extent of concern.
Sierra Club BC will be digging into the details of today’s announcement and the broader report recommendations in the context of the ecological crisis facing B.C.’s forests, to assess how far the interim measures announced today go towards addressing the ongoing threat of logging faced by the rest of the last 3% of old-growth forests with very big trees that are not included in today’s deferrals, and what additional steps are needed.
Read the province’s announcement and full report here.
Senior Forest and Climate Campaigner, Sierra Club BC
Coastal Projects Lead, Sierra Club BC
David Knox, Walas Numgwis
Sign up for our next live webinar on old-growth forests on November 14.