We must keep the pressure on.
Even while ecocidal forces attack Canada’s environment minister, those hoping to avoid societal collapse can’t stay mum on the former Greenpeace employee’s climate crimes.
Last Thursday I interrupted Steven Guilbeault’s press conference to challenge his approval of the Baie du Nord offshore oil project. I asked the minister of environment and climate change how he could justify okaying the extraction of up to 1 billion new barrels of oil amidst a deepening climate crisis. I yelled “climate criminal” and, with the cameras in mind, held a sign next to the minister with the words “Criminel Climatique”.
The disruption generated significant media attention about the Baie du Nord project and Liberals’ climate policies. TVA, La Presse, and Journal de Montréal all published good stories about the disruption while Le Devoir and the Calgary Herald mentioned it. A Global News clip of the interruption was viewed 74,000 times on Twitter while a corporate radio station had a seven-minute discussion titled “Steven Guilbeault a-t-il renié ce qu’il était avant de faire de la politique?” (Has Guilbeault renounced the environmentalist positions he advocated before entering politics?)
Despite claiming to take the climate crisis seriously, the Trudeau government has failed to put the country on track to meet even dangerously insufficient targets for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Canadian GHG emissions have actually increased throughout the Trudeau government’s time in office.
Canada’s plan to meet its GHG targets is among the worst in the G20. If the rest of the world flouts its commitments in a similar way to Canada temperatures are expected to increase between 3 C and 4 C by the end of the century.
In another climate crime Guilbeault recently said oil and gas companies will be given extra time to meet their 2030 emissions reduction targets. “[We] recognize that some of the measures that will be needed to achieve those deep emission reductions might require more time than what we have between now and 2030,” the environment minister told CBC. But any climate strategy worth its salt would seek to shutter the tar sands immediately.
Canada’s oil is among the highest GHG emitting sources and a sense of ‘carbon equity’ demands a rapid cut in Canadian emissions. So does economic justice. The richest countries should be the first to leave fossil fuel wealth in the ground. Only a sociopath would suggest the Congo, Haiti or Bangladesh stop extracting fossil fuels before Canada. Additionally, Canada has far greater means to transition off fossil fuels than many other places. Most of the world’s fossil fuels need to be left untouched to have any chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change and Canadian oil ought to be at the front of a ‘keep it in the ground’ line for a combination of ecological and equity reasons.
Between 1850 and 2021 Canada had the highest per capita GHG emissions in the world, according to Carbon Brief. Today Canada’s per capita emissions are higher than the US and Australia. The emissions intensity of Canada’s buildings, transportation and agriculture are all above the G20 average and Canadians produce nearly three times more GHG per capita than the G20 average.
The Justin Trudeau Liberals’ crimes against the climate are not limited to oil extraction. They have plowed large sums into free bridges and roads, for instance. With a population of 38 million Canada has 36 million registered cars.
The Liberals have also misdirected resources required for transitioning off of fossil fuels to the military. They are spending an eye-popping $100 billion ($300 billion over their lifecycle) on new climate destroying fighter jets and warships. The Department of National Defence emits 59% of federal government GHGs but is exempt from emissions reduction targets.
Those in the pay of the fossil fuel industry and military industrial complex have immense resources to spend on getting their way. Their media voices are numerous and loud. To be heard over the din created by wealthy and powerful those who seek to avoid ecological collapse must be creative and willing to challenge power.
Wherever they go Guilbeault and the rest of the Liberal caucus should be challenged on their climate crimes.