In late August, with wildfires in the Canadian west reaching record breaking levels and residents in the east still reeling from mid-summer heatwaves that killed dozens, the Canadian government bought from American company Kinder Morgan the Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline project, an 890,000 barrel per day pipeline project that would make it all but impossible for Canada to meet its Paris climate commitments.
For years, this project has been fought, following the leadership of Indigenous nations, in the courts, on the streets and the land. In the past few months that fight has escalated with nearly 250 people arrested in mass acts of civil disobedience, thousands of people taking actions across Canada and around the world and, most recently, a massive court victory that quashed the government’s unjust approval of the pipeline.
Without drastic action, scientists warn that wildfires, drought and extreme heat are expected to be a perennial issue in Canada.
In British Columbia and Alberta, temperature rise is nixing hotter, drier weather with expanding mountain pine beetle infestations, transforming western forests into a wildfire tinderbox. 2017 was the worst wildfire season on record – until 2018 that is.
On the other side of the country, nearly 100 people died in connection to extreme heat in Quebec this past summer. Scientists predict that heat wave events like this are expected to become more frequent and up to five times more deadly.
Despite increasingly dangerous climate impacts and strong public opposition, the government of Canada continues to promote and expand tar sands expansion – Canada’s fastest growing source of emissions and a fossil fuel reserve that, if fully exploited, could burn up nearly a quarter of the entire world’s remaining carbon budget for the 1.5°C threshold.
Knowing that the pipeline has the same impact as putting 7 million new cars on Canada’s roads, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau decided to spend at least $4.5 billion in taxpayer money to buy the Kinder Morgan pipeline, pledging to put shovels in the ground as soon as possible.
For now, the path forward for the pipeline remains unclear, but communities opposed to it are stalwart in their opposition. The task that remains is to force Canada’s politicians to understand that our climate commitments mean no new fossil fuel projects.
Read the full People’s Dossier on 1.5°C here.