Writing in The Globe and Mail Thomas Homer-Dixon and Yonatan Strauch have a solid explanation for the incompatibility between the Trans Mountain pipeline and the climate commitments Canada has chosen for itself:
For these [pipeline] opponents, further massive investment in the extraction and export of some of the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel on Earth is nonsensical – idiotic, even. In a dangerously warming world, we should be investing in a clean-energy future, not entrenching Canada more deeply in the economic past.
Continued investment in the oil sands generally, and in the Trans Mountain pipeline specifically, means Canada is doubling down on a no-win bet. We’re betting that the world will fail to meet the reduction targets in the Paris Climate Agreement, thus needing more and more oil, including our expensive and polluting bitumen. We’re betting, in other words, on climate disaster. If, however, the world finally gets its act together and significantly cuts emissions, then Canada will lose much of its investment in the oil sands and the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, because the first oil to be cut will be higher-cost oil such as ours.
There are more sophisticated analyses of the situation which are necessary, concerning global budgets and international negotiations, but it’s fair and accurate to say that Canada’s progress toward decarbonization depends on not making heavy new investments in fossil fuel infrastructure. If the Trudeau government or any other keeps pushing in that direction, Canada seems likely to end up the poorer while the world will be further imperilled both by the emissions we generate and the diplomatic consequences of putting fossil fuel profits before collective action to avert planetary disaster.