Canadian politics has an unhealthy fixation on the profits associated with fossil fuel production and use. It’s the threat of losing those that is always evoked by pro-fossil interests when they are asserting that this or that piece of new fossil fuel infrastructure (this pipeline, that bitumen mine or in situ extraction project) needs to be built.

This analysis of course misses the climatic impacts on third parties. Oil advocates want to think of the transaction as just a happy buyer and a happy seller, ignoring the people losing their homes, financial security, and even their lives because the climatic stability that we have depended on for millennia is being disrupted and destabilized by fossil fuel use. These risks aren’t notional or set in the future, but happening now as this CBC article illustrates: ‘It’s a problem for society’: Climate change is making some homes uninsurable.

Tomorrow the Trudeau government is expected to announce the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion into B.C. Whether it is later stopped by public protest, the courts, or other means or not, I think it will cement the view that rather than trying to seek a sensible compromise the Trudeau Liberals chose a fundamentally incoherent strategy. It makes no sense to try to gently decrease economy-wide oil demand with a carbon price as a route to decarbonization while simultaneously approving projects that would only have a viable role in a future where we choose to ignore climate change. If we end up with an Andrew Scheer Conservative government it will be even worse, both for a fossil fuel industry which misunderstands the fundamental problem it is facing and to Canada’s economy as a whole, but that’s not necessarily enough to save Trudeau, especially while Canada’s relatively pro-decarbonization left is fragmented into support for Greens, the NDP, and Liberals.

Related:

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In an article called “Oilpatch in open rebellion as Ottawa ignores industry’s input on Bill C-69” Chris Varcoe notes:

The uproar over the bill came as CAPP released its annual outlook, forecasting oil production will grow by a tepid 1.4 per cent annually — less than half the pace anticipated five years ago — by 2035 with total output reaching almost 5.9 million barrels per day.

This is unhappy news for pro-oil advocates because Canada’s oil production is growing more slowly, and it is bad news for climate advocates because it is continuing to grow at a time when we desperately need it to shrink.

Phasing out an industry is never easy, but it’s necessary here. The alternative of unconstrained climate change is awful to contemplate, and would be a grave injustice to all those who will come after us and to non-human nature. If we want the world as a whole to dismantle the suicide pact which we have established through ever-rising fossil fuel production and use, countries like Canada cannot continue to hope to enlarge their fossil fuel industries. We have already taken way more than our fair share, and neither Canada nor any province in it has the right to demand any more.

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Eye

2019-06-13

in Photo of the day

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From the National Observer: Young Canadians launch website tracking climate commitments of federal parties

The site itself: Shake Up The Establishment

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