With a carbon footprint between 1990 and 2004 that exceeded all sub-Saharan African countries combined, Canada has a special obligation to scale back its fossil fuel production—even if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau thinks “no country” would leave 173 billion barrels of bitumen in the ground, Montreal-based activist Yves Engler argued last week on The Huffington Post.
Pointing to 10 million people in the Horn of Africa facing drought, 50,000 who died of famine in Somalia in 2011, and predictions that climate change will cause a million deaths per year by 2030, Engler cites international equity as a powerful reason to hasten Canada’s transition off fossil fuels.
“A sense of ‘carbon equity’ requires that Canadian oil remain untouched. So does economic justice,” he writes. Canada had one of the world’s highest living standards before it began large-scale tar sands/oil sands production around the turn of the century, and “the wealthiest countries should be the first to leave fossil fuel wealth in the ground. Only a sociopath would suggest the Congo, Haiti, or Bangladesh stop extracting fossil fuels before Canada does.”