Days before Teck Resources dealt the final death blow to its own tar sands/oil sands mine in northern Alberta, four former Canadian climate negotiators called on the Trudeau government to “end the hypocrisy” and reject the project, pointing out that Canadian fossil production is still projected to skyrocket in spite of the country’s promises to cut emissions.
The decision “again calls into question how sincere Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is about the environment and the economy going hand in hand,” wrote Paul Fauteux, Howard Mann, Chris McDermott, and Guy Saint-Jacques, in a Toronto Star op ed last week. “Trudeau has promised to make Canada a leader in fighting climate change but has actually followed the same policy of oilsands expansion over climate protection as previous governments.”
The four former diplomats cited 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben’s recent contention that Canada’s climate hypocrisy had “reached a new low”, noting that Canada placed in the bottom 10% of the 61 countries assessed in the 2020 Climate Change Performance Index. “Only six perform worse than Canada—including Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United States,” they wrote. “Other studies have shown that if all other countries did what Canada is doing, global warming would reach 4.0°C, instead of the 1.5°C called for by the 2015 Paris Agreement.”
For all its overheated rhetoric to the contrary, they said Canada’s fossil industry knows exactly what’s going on. “From 1992 to 2007, when the Kyoto Protocol went into force, “oilsands production rose 280%,” they noted. “Between 2007 and the 2015 Paris Agreement, production grew by 74%. The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers foresees additional growth of 80% in production from 2015 levels to 2035.” And more recent analysis by the Canadian Energy Research Institute shows that increase coming from an “in situ” production process that produces up to three times more emissions per barrel than open pit mining.
“In situ production is expected to double by 2040, making it impossible to meet any meaningful targets by 2030, or by 2040, or by 2050,” the diplomats warned.
But Fauteux, Mann, McDermott, and Saint-Jacques call for an about-face. “The truth should no longer be covered by the fig leaf of national unity or the other platitudes we’ve heard for the last four years,” they concluded. “It’s time to tell the truth about Canada’s climate policy, and then come up with a concrete plan with clear and ambitious short-term targets that will actually protect the climate. That’s the only way to end the hypocrisy.”