Our leaders are rarely known for their ecological responsibility. Justin Trudeau, Canada’s incredibly popular Prime Minister, is a bit different. And it’s more than just talk. Trudeau has just sealed his comparatively green reputation by turning down controversial plans for the Northern Gateway pipeline project, designed to ferry filthy crude oil across the stunning wild salmon rivers and Great Bear Rainforest of British Columbia.
Canada’s pre-Trudeau Conservative government had approved the Great Bear Rainforest project in 2015, but the plans were stalled thanks to a group of indigenous people, who won a court challenge against the pipeline. As Trudeau said, “This project is not in the best interest of the local affected communities, including indigenous peoples.” Sadly he has approved two other pipeline projects, Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Expansion Project running from Edmonton to Vancouver, and the Enbridge project designed to replace more than 1000 miles of pipeline from Alberta to Wisconsin.
On the bright side, Canada’s PM supports limits on greenhouse gases, and has announced a new Canadian tax on carbon emissions to kick off in 2018, part of its battle to meet Paris climate change accord targets. And he has his reasons for okaying the two pipelines set to go ahead. As he said at a conference in Ottawa, “We are able to approve pipeline projects because we have significant measures in place, including a price on carbon pollution, a world class oceans protection plan, because we’re phasing out coal, because we’re demonstrating real climate leadership.”
The two pipeline projects approved by the PM have, apparently, been ‘thoroughly studied and deemed safe’. On the other hand promoting the use of fossil fuels will never be an environmentally responsible thing to do in a fast-warming world. While Trudeau has taken an impressive stand, it isn’t quite impressive enough.
Canada’s government has also announced its intention to bring in legislation for a moratorium on crude-oil tankers working their way along British Columbia’s north coast. Let’s hope Mr Trudeau keeps up the good work and refuses to bow to pressure from the oil industry.