Why the planned expansion of Canada’s oil production to 2045 is incompatible with meeting the Liberal government’s promised “net-zero emissions by 2050” climate goal
This is a video of a talk by Jennifer Nathan on August 5, 2021, during a cross-Canada Zoom presentation held by Climate Reality. The context of this talk is the deep political, social, and environmental conflict driving peaceful civil disobedience at the terminus of the Trans Mountain Pipeline (TMX) expansion project in Burnaby, B.C.
The discussion in this talk focuses specifically on the climate impacts of continued expansion of Canada’s oil production to 2045. However, as Jennifer explains, the broader picture of this resistance movement challenging the TMX project also encompasses gravely serious infringements of Indigenous peoples’s land rights and livelihoods and cultures both in the immediate area of the marine terminal on Burrard Inlet and along the entire length of the pipeline route through B.C. and down the Fraser River to its estuary and the Salish Sea. She acknowledges the leadership of the Tseil-Waututh Nation, the Squamish Nation, and other First Nations on the West Coast.
The TMX project, presently under construction, will increase the shipping capacity of an existing oil pipeline by an additional 540,000 barrels per day (bpd), raising its total capacity to 890,000 bpd. When the project was approved by the Liberal government in November 2016, the rationale provided by Canada’s National Energy Board (NEB) was that global oil demand was going to continue to increase for another 30 or 40 years and that the new pipeline would be needed to transport Canada’s expanding oil sands production to supply future markets in Asia. Canada exports 80% of its oil production.
As Jennifer explains in this video, when TMX was approved five years ago, the environmental approval process conducted by the NEB refused to accept or consider any scientific evidence from climate scientists about the greenhouse gas emissions implications of Canada’s ongoing expansion of oil sands production, that would be facilitated by the TMX project over the next 40 years. The NEB declined to consider any evidence about climate change, or to address whether the plan to built TMX could be consistent with Canada’s commitments under the Paris Agreement to act to limit warming to 1.5°C or 2°C.
In this talk, Jennifer points to the multiple sources of recent evidence including a new report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) released on May 18, 2021, Net-Zero by 2050: A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector, which clearly show that to give the world even a 50-50 chance to keep further global heating within the promised 1.5°C threshold, global oil consumption must be reduced 50% below the 2019 level by 2040, and must be reduced 75% by 2050. The premise of the TMX project was that there would be an expanding market for Canada’s growing oil sands for another 30 years. Climate science has now clearly shown that global oil use must, starting now, be dramatically reduced. The ongoing expansion of Canada’s oil sands is incompatible with any chance of limiting further global warming to safe levels. That issue lies at the heart of civil disobedience at the arrests at the TMX terminal on Vancouver’s harbour.
Links to sources and reports referenced in Jennifer Nathan’s talk:
- Ministerial Panel Report:
Report from the Ministerial Panel for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project (nrcan.gc.ca)
- International Energy Agency Report:
Net Zero by 2050 – Analysis – IEA
- One Eye Shut Climate Policy:
Correcting Canada’s “one eye shut” climate policy – Cascade Institute
- Canada Energy Regulator Energy Futures 2020 Report:
CER – Canada’s Energy Future 2020 (cer-rec.gc.ca)
- David Hughes Energy Sector Report:
Canada’s Energy Sector | Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
- Climate scientists’ letter to Trudeau (article):
EXCLUSIVE: Experts Press Trudeau to Link Regulator’s Energy Planning to 1.5°C Targets – The Energy Mix
- Climate scientists’ letter to Trudeau (actual letter):
Canada’s Energy Regulator should develop a net-zero scenario, Letter to Prime Minister, July 2021 | LinkedIn
- Climate scientists’ article on Net-Zero:
Climate scientists: concept of net zero is a dangerous trap (theconversation.com)
- A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy:
A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy (canada.ca)