Justin Trudeau was too good to be true.
It seems while the world has been bashing President Donald Trump for signing executive orders for two controversial oil pipelines, Dakota Access and Keystone XL, his Canadian counterpart Prime Minister Trudeau has been doing the same thing — albeit in a more circumspect way.
Bill McKibben, an environmental activist, wrote in the Guardian that “Trudeau says all the right things, over and over. He’s got no Scott Pruitts in his cabinet: everyone who works for him says the right things. It was Canadian diplomats, and the country’s environment minister, Catherine McKenna, who pushed at the Paris climate talks for a tougher-than-expected goal: holding the planet’s rise in temperature to 1.5C (2.7F).”
However, while the Canadian prime minister is working to lower carbon footprints and helping other countries hit by climate change, he is also pushing for the development of oil and gas resources, which includes Alberta’s dirty tar sands.
“You can’t make a choice between what’s good for the environment and what’s good for the economy,” Trudeau told the crowd. “We can’t shut down the oil sands tomorrow. We need to phase them out. We need to manage the transition off of our dependence on fossil fuels.”
Environment minister McKenna, when asked by the veteran Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki, said, “We have an incredible climate change plan that includes putting a price on carbon pollution, also investing in clean innovation. But we also know we need to get our natural resources to market and we’re doing both.”
However, you can’t do one without compromising the other and that’s exactly what Trudeau is doing when he is pushing hard for new pipelines through Canada and U.S. — like the Keystone XL — to carry even more oil from tar sands — which are considered the dirtiest fossil fuels in the planet.
The Keystone XL would funnel a daily load of 830,000 barrels of tar sands — a toxic mix of sand, clay, bitumen and a heavy black viscous oil — to Texan refineries, which would produce carbon emission equal to that of 5.6 million cars, according to Friends of the Earth.
In 2015, former president Obama dismissed TransCanada’s application to construct the controversial pipeline after seven years of deliberation. At that time, Trudeau applauded his decision but now he has put the decision to give Keystone XL the green light citing, “We know we can get our resources to market more safely and responsibly while meeting our climate change goals.”
However, it is not just the fact that the pipeline will be a source of a motherload of emissions. According to the native Oceti Sakowin people, the pipeline will leak and contaminate their water supply.
Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network said the pipeline runs across the Ogallala Aquifer, which supplied water to Nebraska and “The potential for a spill there is far too great of a risk for not only tribal members but for non-native people to take in this region.”
The Environmental Protection Agency has also admitted that many of the environmental risks surrounding the pipe were underevaluated or not researched at all. Also the lack of proper consultation with tribal nations along the proposed route of the pipelines also violates treaty with the natives.
The recoverable oil in the tar sands of Alberta will amount to 173 billion barrels, so if Trudeau digs up that oil, “Canada, which represents one half of 1% of the planet’s population, is claiming the right to sell the oil that will use up a third of the earth’s remaining carbon budget,” Mc Kibben gave the alarming stats.
That’s a disaster for climate — and Justin Trudeau is enabling it. In fact, he might be worse than Trump when it comes to climate change because at least the U.S. president doesn’t put up a façade when it comes to this matter.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters