Alberta Tar Sands
Justin Trudeau has become less the pipeline pusher that Stephen Harper was, and more of the fossil fuel industry appeaser. Championing Alberta's climate plan, Canada has offered the fossil fuel industry it's own Sudetenland, a 30MT expansion of the tar sands and at least one pipeline.
As momentous an occasion as it is when an oil jurisdiction actually puts limits on growth, 100 million tonnes of carbon a year at a time when science is demanding bold reductions is still far too much. While historic, the government's cap needs to be viewed as a ceiling rather then a floor.
Keystone was a fight that no one thought we could win. When the pipeline was first proposed, every energy analyst, every journalist and every politician either had never heard of it or thought the same thing -- the pipeline was a virtual certainty and its approval was imminent.
It is perfectly possible to talk about energy and climate in the same breath. It is not a tussle between good and bad. Whether you're government, a oil major, an advocate, a journalist or an observer, it's about doing the right things, in the right way, and sooner rather than later.
Pipelines are a hot-button topic this fall. But whether we're looking at the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion or Enbridge's Northern Gateway project, a meaningful public debate on how these pipelines will contribute to climate change has not yet occurred.
"From an environmental point of view locally, it's astonishing and overwhelming."
Setting a deadline 85 years from now to stop burning fossil fuels may be politically safe, but it completely ignores the science that tells us we need to leave the majority of global fossil fuel reserves underground, including upwards of 85 per cent of Canadian tar sands reserves. Time is of the essence, and every day is crucial as we work to wean our society off carbon-intensive fuels on to renewable energy.
Despite the province having the most solar potential out of any province in Canada, investment in solar is still piecemeal. There are little to no government supports for solar and yet huge government subsidies are given to the provinces most polluting industries like the tar sands.
While the Alberta Energy Regulator has made regulatory orders in some cases, no charges have been laid related to any of the oil spills that made headlines last summer. And for the most part, the public remains in the dark about how those spills have affected their communities and the environment. As the AER enters its second year, it has a golden opportunity to live up to its big promises.