“Climate activists are sometimes depicted as dangerous radicals. But the truly dangerous radicals are the countries that are increasing the production of fossil fuels.”António Guterres, Secretary-general of the United Nations
“Letter to Cabinet: Reject Bay du Nord and focus on a fair transition for Newfoundland and Labrador”Sierra Club Canada
Merriam-webster dictionary gives one possible definition of the word “radical” as “advocating extreme measures to retain or restore a political state of affairs.” According to this definition, do you know of any “dangerous radicals” in Canada’s government? António Guterres said that these government officials were guilty of a “litany of broken climate promises,” adding, “Some government and business leaders are saying one thing, but doing another. Simply put, they are lying.” [tinyurl.com/ipcc-3guterres]
Canada has never kept its promises to reach any climate targets it has set for itself, even though its own reports are scientifically certain that the Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world and that this is effectively irreversible. [tinyurl.com/ipcc-3-2022analysis]
Canada has no national political “leaders” combating climate breakdown. On June 17, 2019, Canada’s House of Commons declared a national climate emergency by a wide majority. Justin Trudeau, the prime minister, wasn’t there to support the motion, because he went to a Raptors basketball game in Toronto instead. The following morning, the Canadian government announced the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion, which would almost triple the flow of tar sands bitumen.
The key word that always brings into question Canada’s credibility is “target.” Targets are for governments 10 years in the future to ponder, on realizing that the nine previous years accomplished nothing to actualize those goals, so when Trudeau originally spoke about a 30% reduction in carbon emissions in 2030 from a 2005 level, a fact check by the CBC said Canada was not going to remotely make that “target.” When Trudeau and boy wonder Steven Guilbeault speak about a 40–45% reduction in emissions, no one believes them; who will be there in 2030 to admonish them and call them liars? Now, if Guilbeault’s power trajectory takes him to 24 Sussex Drive as Canada’s prime minister after the 2025 election, he might have to scrape around to come up with other reasons for not realizing those critical climate mitigation targets. Consider that 17% of all carbon emissions since the Industrial Revolution were emitted between 2010 and 2019. Although the pandemic slowed down emissions, we are now greedily making up for lost time. If we are to meet a carbon budget that enables the world to stay close to a 1.5 Celsius rise, then definitely the Bay du Nord offshore oil project should be cancelled.
The richest 10% of people on the planet are busily creating almost 50% of all carbon emissions, and Guilbeault’s goals can never be met, especially now that Bay du Nord has increased its original projection of 300 million barrels of oil to potentially 1 billion barrels of oil that will spew and burn by 2028.
Keeping all this in mind, why would Guilbeault at the beginning of April give the green light to Bay du Nord, and do so right after the most damming IPCC report [https://tinyurl.com/ipcc3-policymakers], which categorically emphasized that there can be no new oil infrastructure if we are to avoid catastrophic climate breakdown? “I think the report tells us that we’ve reached the now-or-never point of limiting warming to 1.5C,” said IPCC lead author Heleen de Coninck. The Summary for Policymakers is only 64 pages long; did anyone read this government-edited and watereddown but still frightening document? Did Andrew Furey, the premier of Newfoundland, who said, “The Bay du Nord project is a go… It is a green light as we progress to a greener future,” declare victory upon hearing Environment and Climate Change minister Guilbeault give the go-ahead, or did he more likely also lobby so hard beforehand that even the science couldn’t make a dent in the cognitive dissonance that portrays this government’s connection to Nature, aboriginal groups and the rest of us? Maybe Guilbeault really thinks that Bay du Nord is a greenish mega project after all, as Furey seems to believe—or is it that Guilbeault is mixing it up with the end of the 17-year moratorium in Newfoundland on wind power just announced by Furey and fervently believes that the upcoming oil extraction at Bay du Nord will take on a tint of green?
Hey, do we really not now know what one of UN Guterres’ radicals looks like in Canada? It’s not just the journalists who can’t figure out why this Liberal government time after time insults sound scientific evidence. An open letter sent by Sierra Club Canada a month before the cabinet accepted the project, and signed by over 120 organizations, stated why the Canadian government should walk away from the Bay du Nord project! Talk about not listening to your citizens! [tinyurl.com/sierra-club-letter]
It is not difficult to search out and read a bunch of Canadian newspapers, including Sherbrooke’s Tribune, which commented on the Bay du Nord project—Mickaël Bergeron’s April 9 article was titled Le manque de cran de Trudeau (“Trudeau’s lack of guts”)— and quickly recognize that the vast majority of journalists were not part of a cheerleading chorus for the government’s ill-informed decision. One online journal headline was “Climate liars, Canada branch.” [tinyurl. com/climate-liars]
Guterres laid it on even thicker by courageously declaring the IPCC report a “file of shame, cataloguing the empty pledges that put us firmly on track towards an unlivable world.” With the Earth “already perilously close to tipping points that could lead to cascading and irreversible climate impacts,” he emphasized, “This is not fiction or exaggeration. It is what science tells us will result from our current energy policies. We are on a pathway to global warming of more than double the 1.5° limit agreed in Paris.”
Guterres must be speaking of Canada’s ‘radical’ prime minister and former climate campaigner ‘radical’ Guilbeault, who pronounced on April 6 that Bay du Nord was “not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects” and touted the corporate public relations fossil lobbyists’ sales pitch that Bay du Nord will be the lowest-carbonemitting project in Newfoundland’s coastal waters. Meanwhile Guterres blasted those new oil infrastructures as being “catastrophic” for long-term planetary health.
As has been the case with Exxonmobil’s new fossil fuel extraction commitments in Guyana, Guilbeault is following a worrisome arrogant blustery trend: giving the go-ahead on major oil projects within a day or two of the IPCC’S condemnation of new oil infrastructure, and charging gleefully ahead the day after the declaration of a national climate emergency strategy by one of his predecessors. One newspaper called it a “slap on the face” to science. Guterres declared investing in new fossil fuel infrastructure “moral and economic madness.”
I feel it’s necessary to go further and vigorously point out that the government’s decision to accept the drilling in Bay du Nord by the Norwegian oil company Equinor is a callous betrayal of the children of this country, who will be unable to lead their lives free from the climate and biodiversity breakdown that is constantly causing them massive anxiety. Trudeau and Guilbeault are facilitating ecocide.
On the day Guilbeault visited Sherbrooke this month, Jacob Auger, a student at Université de Sherbrooke, was there to protest Guilbeault’s oil project. Placard in hand saying “Non à Bay du Nord,” Jacob asked for a surge of protest throughout Québec. These climate protests have already started in London; indeed, let them start here.