In the wake of the Paris climate talks, environmental groups on Thursday called for a "People's Injunction" against corporate proposals for major pipelines across Canada, charging that the resultant boom in tar sands extraction would be incompatible with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's stated commitment to keeping global warming under 1.5 degrees Celsius.
TransCanada announced on Thursday that it "has filed an amendment to its existing application with the National Energy Board" to build the Energy East pipeline that would stretch from eastern to western Canada. The company claims that the proposed changes, at a cost hike of 30 percent, include "route and scope changes that come in direct response to efforts to avoid sensitive environmental areas."
But a coalition of green groups, including Council of Canadians and Ecology Ottawa, declared Thursday that the pipeline must not be built at all.
"Estimates show the upstream production emissions of the pipeline, in Alberta alone, would be as high as 32 million metric tons of [carbon dioxide equivalent] a year, or 7 million new vehicles, while total life-cycle emissions are estimated at a staggering 220 million metric tons per year—more than what’s allowable under the new climate pledge," the organizations warned in a joint statement.
"If Canada wants to be taken seriously on the world’s stage, then the first step is keeping their climate promises here at home."
—Aurore Fauret, 350.org
"The climate math for building Energy East doesn’t add up," said Andrea Harden-Donahue of the Council of Canadians. "Trudeau’s Liberal government has agreed with world leaders in Paris to limit warming to 1.5° Celsius, a target that will require a rapid transition to a fossil free future, definitely not a new massive tar sands pipeline. The action on the ground starts now."
Indigenous communities along the proposed route of Energy East have staged numerous protests and acts of civil disobedience against the pipeline, which would cut through their land and endanger their waterways and public health. "Our Anishinaabe laws and values tell us everything we need to know about Energy East; that is why we say no," Chief Fawn Wapioke of Iskatewizaagegan, Shoal Lake 39 First Nation, declared this summer at an Indigenous march along the proposed route.
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Meanwhile, the U.S.-based corporation Kinder Morgan this week filed a written argument to Canadian regulators seeking permission to build the Trans-Mountain Pipeline to ship crude oil from Alberta to British Columbia.
"Whether it’s TransCanada’s Energy East filing, or Kinder Morgan’s pushing for the Trans-Mountain pipeline at the National Energy Board in Calgary... we know that neither project can be built if this government is going to have a shot at keeping temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius," said Aurore Fauret of climate group 350.org in a statement released on Thursday.
"That's why today we're launching the 'People’s Injunction' to stop Prime Minister Trudeau and his government from breaking their first big climate promise and allowing these two pipelines to proceed at the National Energy Board without considering their climate impacts and without listening to community voices—especially First Nations," Fauret continued. "If Canada wants to be taken seriously on the world’s stage, then the first step is keeping their climate promises here at home."
Just last month, a coalition of climate groups called on Trudeau to immediately halt and address the country's "costly, broken" pipeline review process—a promise he made on the campaign trail.
In a public pledge, organizers warned that if Trudeau doesn't "honor his word by January 15th, then we, the people, will take action to enforce this 'People’s Injunction.'"