They say there’s no use beating a dead horse. With no federal regulations on greenhouse gas pollution from the tar sands—Canada’s fastest growing source of emissions—and the federal government backing the oil industry to push oil pipelines on both sides of the country, the hope of addressing climate change in Canada could easily appear to be a very dead horse.
Of course, at ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE we know the conversation on climate isn’t over, and so do Canadians. We know we can build an economy that isn’t destructive to the environment, one that is cleaner, greener and prepares all Canadians for the transition to a sustainable future.
Instead of building pipelines and tankers to carry dirty oil across our precious land and water, we’ve been working to promote clean energy solutions, and the thousands of jobs that go along with them. And, we’ve done so in partnership with communities, First Nations, unions, academics, economists, and scientists, to name a few.
Communities like those in British Columbia, whose voices were heard loud and clear about the proposed Northern Gateway tar sands pipeline and tanker project in May. We were delighted by B.C.’s responsible decision to reject Enbridge’s risky proposal. If built, the pipeline would carry 100 million tonnes of carbon pollution each year, the equivalent of putting 18 million cars on the road. By listening to residents and people across Canada, B.C. made an important move to protect the rights, environment and health of Canadians over the narrow interests of oil companies.
Of all the pro tar sands rhetoric out there in Canada, perhaps some of the toughest to swallow promotes the economic benefits of expanding the tar sands. That’s why we released More Bang for our Buck: How Canada can create more energy jobs and less pollution, with our green economy partners, Blue Green Canada. The report shows how Canada’s increasing reliance on the oil sands is not the best strategy for the economy or our environment. If the $1.3 billion in government subsidies now given to the oil and gas sector were instead invested in renewable energy and energy efficiency, Canada would create 18,000 more jobs, and also diminish the economic risks of relying increasingly on the volatile oil market.
The same goes for the risky Line 9 pipeline, proposed to run through Ontario and Quebec. The proposal to ship potentially more dangerous tar sands oil through an old pipeline that crosses every river flowing into Lake Ontario on the Canadian side, and runs directly through the most populated part of Canada, is extremely risky.
If you live in Ontario, you’ve probably seen evidence of our work to stop Line 9. We’ve spoken with thousands of residents along the proposed pipeline route, and our “Stop Line 9” lawn signs can be seen in front of homes from Kingston to Hamilton. In January, we worked with groups across Ontario, Quebec, and New England to support a Day of Action on Line 9 and say no to tar sands oil being shipped through our communities. And then, in May, we drew attention to the National Energy Board’s (NEB) new rules requiring members of the public to submit a resume and references as part of a 10 page application form, just for permission to submit a letter to the NEB. These rules appear intentionally designed to prevent public participation in hearings about new energy projects, such as the Line 9 pipeline project. We encourage all Canadians to be concerned about what’s happening in their home community, no matter what’s on their resume.
And, ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE is also actively supporting the type of energy development we do want. We were happy that the Ontario government announced in July that it wants to put energy conservation first when planning to meet the province’s energy needs. That means more money, more jobs and less pollution. Not a bad deal. We’ve also seen more green energy projects built in Ontario this year. Our priority is to make sure the province sticks with a strong plan to go green. All in all, the call for a new way of thinking about energy in Canada is strong. We’re proud to lead this effort, and will continue to push for a national clean energy strategy.