OTTAWA – The Council of Canadians deployed a 10-foot inflatable elephant outside of Victoria Hall where federal, provincial and territorial Environment Ministers are meeting today to discuss a national climate plan. With a banner “New Pipelines? Old Ideas,” the group representing over 100,000 Canadians reminded Premiers that climate action means ending new fossil fuel infrastructure like oil pipelines and expansion in the Alberta tar sands.
“Energy East is the 32 million tonne elephant in the room that an effective climate test for pipelines can’t ignore,” says Andrea Harden-Donahue, Energy and Climate Campaigner with the Council of Canadians. “Attempts to frame TransCanada’s controversial Energy East as a national unity issue must not detract from the facts. It is the largest tar sands pipeline proposed to date and is entirely incompatible with responsible action on climate change.”
Filling the Energy East pipeline could spur an up to 40 per cent increase in tar sands production and generate up to 30 to 32 million tonnes of carbon pollution. Along with Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain expansion, 45.4 million tonnes could be unleashed annually. This is more than the annual climate pollution of eight provinces and territories. It is the equivalent of adding 9.7 million cars to the road.
Eighty-five per cent of tar sands bitumen has to be left in the ground in order to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius. This means no more than 7.5 billion barrels of oil from the tar sands can be produced over the next 35 years. Energy East alone threatens to exceed that carbon budget within about 19 years. A 1.5 degrees Celsius target, which the Canadian government supported at the UN climate talks in Paris, requires a limit to the amount of oil that can be extracted from the tar sands and shipped via Energy East.
“Expansion in the tar sands and related infrastructure is our past, not our future,” adds Maude Barlow, National Chairperson with the Council of Canadians. “We must shift to finding ways to support impacted oil workers and their families while prioritizing investments in sustainable solutions such as public transit, renewable energy, energy conservation and energy efficiency. This is where our future is, and where we can generate good, green jobs.”