In one of Canada’s largest climate marches, 25,000 people rallied in Quebec City this weekend, with concurrent marches in Alberta, Ontario and British Columbia.
They sent provincial premiers three simple messages:
- Yes to taking strong action on climate change
- No to expanding Canada’s tar sands and pipelines
- Yes to renewable energy
The march anticipates Tuesday’s conference on climate change, where provincial premiers will purportedly work on a national energy strategy and prepare commitments for December’s Climate Change Summit. Although he was invited, Canadian Prime Minister Harper will not attend.
Just days before, 2,700 liters of toxic bunker fuel spilled in Vancouver’s English Bay.
People want the premiers to know, "We’ve reached our boiling point, much like the planet has," say the organizers, a coalition of First Nations and environmental groups across Canada.
In 2012, premiers attempted to develop a national energy strategy, but it became mired in the age-old province versus national governing debate. And while most of Canada will soon price carbon, provincial leaders somehow still support tar sands oil and fracking.
Council of Canadians notes:
- Alberta premier Jim Prentice describes the Keystone XL pipeline – which would emit 22 million tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions a year – as ‘environmentally defensible’.
- Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall says he will be ‘disappointed’ if President Obama vetoes the Keystone pipeline.
- British Columbia premier Christy Clark is championing development of LNG export terminals in the province, even though just five terminals would release 13 million tons of GHG emissions, after fracking and transport generate 15 million tons.
- Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne, who is shepherding through cap-and-trade, also wants to help Alberta get its tar sands oil to market.
- New Brunswick premier Brian Gallant has publicly backed the idea of twinning Energy East from Alberta to his province with a fracked gas pipeline that could feed an LNG export terminal in Saint John.
- The premier of the Northwest Territories has been promoting the Arctic Gateway pipeline, which would carry tar sands oil to the Arctic Ocean.
"A study in the January edition of the journal Nature put our challenge plainly: Canada must leave 85% of tar sands in the soil to help the human race avoid catastrophic climate change. That means no new tar sands pipelines. No Keystone, no Energy East, no Kinder Morgan, No Northern Gateway. Build even one, and we torpedo our chances of stopping global warming. We stand on the edge of a precipice, and a lack of political will threatens to send us over it. Our Premiers need to choose. We cannot protect the climate while expanding the tar sands and approving new pipelines," says Maude Barlow, Chair of Council of Canadians.
"We are demanding a Canadian energy strategy which features meaningful regulatory limits on greenhouse gas emissions, a just transition to conservation, energy efficiency and the rapid expansion of public and community-owned renewable energy. Intimately linked to these efforts is our call to oppose the ‘free trade’ agenda of NAFTA, CETA and the WTO given they undermine the ability of all levels of governments to regulate the sale or extraction of fossil fuels and promote renewable energy," says Barlow.
"We are very wary and would oppose a strategy that allows business as usual – namely, the pursuit of an energy superpower status through increased exports based on unfettered ongoing fossil-fuel exploitation. The social and environmental costs of this are all too clear," adds Andrea Harden-Donahue, an energy and climate justice campaigner.
Read our article, Canadians Rise Up Against Their Own Keystone Pipelines.