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Trudeau Oil

Greenpeace activists unfurl outside the Canadian High Commission, Canada House, to protest against the Trudeau government's plans to build an oil pipeline in British Colombia on April 18, 2018 in London, England. (Photo: Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)

Climate Groups Say Canadian Government 'Bowed to Big Oil' With New Budget

"By relying on future unproven techno-fixes to cut emissions, the government is gambling with our lives."

Jessica Corbett

Climate campaigners are charging that the federal budget unveiled Thursday by Canada's Liberal government fails to deliver on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's three-year-old promise to bring about a "just transition" from fossil fuels and instead caters to polluters.

"This federal budget is stuck in the mindset of more highways and fossil fuel subsidies."

New Democratic Party (NDP) Leader Jagmeet Singh pledged his caucus will support the 2022 budget, presented by Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland just days after the latest alarming report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Meanwhile, activists pointed to the report as evidence that Canada's new budget falls dangerously short of the actions needed by rich governments to avert the most catastrophic impacts of the climate emergency.

"Earlier this week, the world's best scientists put out another IPCC report making it clear that we need to get off of fossil fuels to tackle the climate crisis," 350.org's Katie Perfitt said Thursday. "But, today, Justin Trudeau, backed by the NDP, tabled a budget giving billions of dollars to expensive, ineffective carbon capture technology that does little more than ensure Big Oil will continue to expand fossil fuel production."

"This after he presented a climate plan that would increase tar sands production and gave the green light to the massive Bay du Nord offshore oil project," she noted.

"If this government was serious about climate change, we wouldn't still be waiting for the Just Transition Act that Justin Trudeau promised three years and two elections ago," Perfitt added. "This budget would include billions of dollars funding that transition but instead, we're getting more handouts to Big Oil and more promises to do more on climate change at some other time."

Specifically—as Atiya Jaffar, 350 Canada's digital campaigns manager, wrote in a blog post—under the new budget, "fossil fuel companies investing in carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) would receive over $2.6 billion over the next five years and $1.5 billion annually until 2030."

"This is irresponsible and the opposite of what we need during a climate emergency," Jaffar warned, arguing that "these funds should go towards introducing a bold, ambitious Just Transition Act that retrains fossil fuel workers, creates millions of green jobs, and accelerates community-led climate solutions."

Other campaigners who have been organizing against the CCUS plan were similarly critical following Thursday's announcement.

"Minister Freeland has bowed to Big Oil lobbyists and implemented their carbon capture tax subsidy," declared Julia Levin, senior Climate and Energy Program manager at Environmental Defense. "Carbon capture is not a climate solution—it's a greenwashing strategy used to justify more fossil fuel production and get more taxpayer money into the pockets of executives and shareholders."

"By relying on future unproven techno-fixes to cut emissions, the government is gambling with our lives," Levin added. "Instead of creating yet another fossil fuel subsidy, the government should have invested in proven climate solutions, including renewable energy, efficient affordable housing, and electrification of transportation."

Others also highlighted the need for more transportation funding while noting that the budget recognizes the government's recent $750 million commitment to the Keep Transit Moving coalition.

"It's clear that public transit systems in Canada need long-term support. While the $750 million is welcome and needed, it covers less than two months' worth of what our struggling public transit systems need this year alone," said John Di Nino, president of Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Canada.

Dylan Penner, climate and social justice campaigner with the Council of Canadians, emphasized that "Trudeau has been promising a just transition for three years" without following through.

"It's time to deliver," Penner said. "Public transit is a core part of the solution to the climate crisis and can drive much of the systemic transformation that's needed. We need sustained funding and expansion for green municipal public transit and intercity public bus service, but instead, this federal budget is stuck in the mindset of more highways and fossil fuel subsidies."

Canada's 2022 budget features some investments in zero-emission vehicles, renewable electricity, and initiatives to protect oceans and freshwater.

Environmental Defense executive director Tim Gray said that it "contained some hopeful measures, but above all, the federal government should be prioritizing the needs of people over oil and gas corporations. Yet this budget continues Canada's pattern of giving huge windfalls to industrial polluters with limited investment in creating the cleaner future we need and the prosperity that could flow from it."

"The world is facing mounting ecological and humanitarian crises," said Gray. "The time is now for bold, ambitious action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, protect our health from chemical pollution in our water and communities, and get rid of single-use plastics."


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