Tarsands Pipelines and Climate Change
Toronto350.org is one of many groups that signed onto an open letter to the PM and Cabinet Members calling for a fair review of pipeline projects that includes all scientific evidence, welcomes public participation and puts in place a climate test that ensures Canada doesn’t build infrastructure that makes the 1.5 degree limit of global temperature rise impossible. The review must include true consultations with Indigenous communities and respect the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.
This campaign engaged people with the link between new fossil fuel infrastructure and its incompatibility with Canada's climate commitments to keeping global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees celsius above pre-industrial levels.
- Pipelines are needed for expansion of Alberta's tarsands, the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada, and the world's dirtiest fossil fuel extraction
- Transcanada's proposed Energy East pipeline would carry 1.1 million barrels of oil per day, making it the largest tarsands pipeline ever.
- The National Energy Board (NEB) currently does not consider climate impacts as part of its assessment of pipelines. The federal government has promised rigorous reforms to the NEB to include better environmental assessment, public participation and consultation with First Nations groups. But so far, the NEB is operating business as usual
- To mitigate runaway climate change, Canada needs to keep 80% of tarsands fossil fuels in the ground.
1) Energy East Pipeline
Toronto350.org actively worked to stop the Energy East Pipeline. We called on the federal government to freeze all current National Energy Board pipeline applications until promised NEB reforms for stronger environmental and climate assessment, public participation, and constitutional requirements for duty to consult with First Nations, Metis and Inuit groups were met.
- Met with MPs in Toronto ridings to push for the implementation of the recommendations in the letter
- Wrote letters to the editor and other communications to draw public attention to the faulty NEB process and federal promises for its reform
- Built relationships with Indigenous and community groups opposing Energy East, other pipelines and the NEB process
- Canvassed Door-to-Door and by phone to distribute lawn signs advocating for keeping fossil fuels in the ground
- Grew our list of supporters who will pressure elected leaders to support NEB reform and a moratorium on pipeline applications
- Conducted creative, non-violent direct actions
People's Climate Intervention
In February, a national campaign called the People's Climate Intervention engaged over 1800 citizens across Canada to apply to the NEB to intervene in Energy East hearings, on the grounds that the increased GHG emissions would affect us all directly through climate impacts.
Over 300 of these were organized by Toronto350.org - we hosted and supported more than 10 application parties to engage people with the issue and the (corrupt) regulatory process. Our applications are still being processed by the NEB, but we except most to be rejected. We will use this momentum to pressure our governments to take a stance on Energy East and denounce the regulatory process, through media, political interventions and peaceful direct actions.
Read More About Energy East
Energy East was a massive tar sands pipeline, proposed by TransCanada, that would run from Alberta to New Brunswick. The oil it would transport would be like adding 7 million new cars to the road, and cancel out the GHG reductions from closing down Ontario's coal plants. It would cross more than 50 First Nations communities and hundreds of waterways—which would be vulnerable to spills.
This single pipeline could've undone all progress on climate change in Canada
Climate Implications of the Proposed Energy East Pipeline--Pembina Report
The pipeline was being built by the same megacorp behind the controversial Keystone and Keystone XL pipelines. Running from Alberta to New Brunswick, the pipeline would guarantee a massive expansion of Tar Sands extraction capability.
The National Energy Board is the federal regulator in charge of reviewing pipeline projects. The NEB's mandate to review projects has been empowered by the conservative government. Steven Harper has poured millions of dollars worth of grease onto the rails in his bid to get his 'pet' pipeline projects approved.
The NEB refused to consider the climate impacts of the project. They were willing to hear expert testimony about spills, land use and commercial gas shortages but they would not hear any input from experts or the public about the upstream or downstream greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the project.
By adding their voices to our call people helped demonstrate that Canadians care about our climate and our democracy. Contrary to what Harper wants, project reviews don't exist just to win approval for industry. They are an important platform for the concerns of civil society to be in front of industry experts and decision makers.
2) Line 9
The Enbridge Line 9 pipeline currently carries conventional oil west through Toronto. Enbridge applied to increase the capacity of the pipeline and to shift its use to transporting diluted bitumen east from the oil sands for export. This creates a local threat of spills, since diluted bitumen is riskier to transport than conventional oil, and it contributes to the growth of the oil sands. Toronto350.org supports allies working to stop Line 9. See the background for the Line 9 campaign below....
December 22, 2015
We at Toronto350 would like to express our profound gratitude and support for the people who took peaceful action to stop the flow of the Enbridge Line 9 pipeline on December 21, 2015, on Anishnaabe territory near so-called “Sarnia.” These people, rooted in their communities and committed to organic farming, environmental advocacy and challenging violence against women, courageously defended their communities, and all of our communities, after having exhausted all legal avenues. They are also not alone in judging this to be the only way for indigenous and democratic voices to be heard. Three Quebecers engaged in a similar action earlier this month to stop the flow through Line 9. These are worthy and legitimate forms of dissent.
The absence of valid consultation and consent from First Nations and other impacted communities, the impacts of tar sands exploitation, the state of this forty-year-old pipeline and the lack of serious measures to ensure its secure operation are some - but not all - of the reasons to denounce the recent reversal of the flow of this pipeline.
Line 9 crosses numerous tributaries of the Saint Lawrence river, including the Ottawa river and the Rivière des Mille-Îles, putting the drinking water of three million people at risk. Richard Kuprewicz, an American expert in pipeline security, has predicted that there is a 90% chance of a significant spill in the first five years of Line 9’s operation.
Communities have used all traditional and legal means available to express their dissent, including numerous appeals to elected officials. Yet the government bodies who claim to protect the population have gone ahead with this project. At the federal level, even after making election campaign promises to revise the National Energy Board (NEB) pipeline evaluation process to be more transparent and democratic, the Trudeau government has thus far remained inactive on this issue. The people have the full right to accuse the federal government, the NEB and Enbridge of putting lives in danger, and to take action when these bodies fail to fulfill their responsibilities.
We assert that all those who are concerned about the safety and well-being about the land, water and life, have the right to defend our communities from this disastrous project. When people decide to undertake such actions at the risk of being criminalized, it is only because a serious situation demands a serious response.
Protecting Mother Earth is not a crime, it is a responsibility.
These activists face thousands in potential fines and legal fees.
View the No Line 9 rally in January 2012
Watch the video of one of our members, Stuart, speaking at the Stop Line 9 rally
View the photos from Toronto350's first ever event: Kalamazoo Solidarity 2012
LINE9 TAR SANDS REVERSAL
The energy company Enbridge is hoping to reverse the flow of an oil pipeline, 'Line 9', so that it can carry tar sands crude from Sarnia to Montreal. If the project is approved it would, for the first time, allow dirty crude oil to be pumped through Toronto, as well as many environmentally sensitive areas in Ontario and Quebec. View Environmental Defence's graphic.
The chance of an oil spill in this aging pipe, given the corrosive nature of tar sands crude oil ("hot liquid sandpaper"), is very high, nearing certainty. An oil spill could be devastating not only for fragile ecosystems and rare species in Ontario, but would also threaten the drinking water of the city of Toronto.
We do not believe Canada will become an energy superpower by exploiting the tar sands, as energy in the 21st century must come from carbon-free sources, not carbon-intensive sources that are tied to deforestation and desertification. Therefore, we are working to oppose the approval of the pipeline's reversal, as it can only damage Toronto, the provinces, Canada and the planet.
The heads of the four major oil and gas lobby groups request that the Harper Govt change the law to benefit them.
Simply put, they believed that environmental laws were too focused on protecting the environment and they wanted this changed. This was only found out a year later by an Access to Information Request by Greenpeace.
Stephen Harper and the Conservative Govt push through omnibus budget Bill C-38.
This bill removed the legal need to conduct Environmental Assessments of pipeline projects, smoothing the way for Enbridge's Line 9 pipeline reversal proposal. It also changed the National Energy Board process, to restrict public participation and expedite the proceedings. It contained many of the law changes that the fossil fuel lobby groups had requested ("demanded") a few months before.
This omnibus budget bill was criticized strongly by Canadians from nearly every sector of society: all opposition parties, academics, First Nations, charities and the media. Although the bill received over 700 suggested amendments, the Harper Govt refused to accept any changes to the bill, and forced the bill through parliament. The Bill became known as the Environment Devastation Act.
The NEB "rubber-stamping" process begins.
The NEB releases the "List of Issues"
The List of Issues specifically states: "The Board will not consider the environmental and socio-economic effects associated with upstream activities, the development of oil sands, or the downstream use of the oil transported by the pipeline."
Toronto350.org responds to the List of Issues, asking for changes. The NEB ignores all of our requests. We send out a press release, which, along with press releases from other groups, declares the process illegitimate without the changes being included.
The NEB releases its anti-public "Application to Participate"
The application form is part of a 23-page PDF, of which the application form itself is 10 pages, and requests both DV and references. There is a two-week window in order to complete and submit the application form, through which Toronto350.org applies to comment.
Again, the NEB process is criticized for being anti-participatory. For a TedX talk about "Redefining Apathy" - it's not that people don't want to participate and have a voice in these issues, it's that the process intentionally excludes participation and puts people off.
Toronto350.org submits its comment
"No Line 9! No Tar Sands Pipelines!" rally draws people to the streets
Toronto350.org had a block in the rally (pics), which marked the final day of the NEB's so-called public participation process.
3)STEP UP, CANADA!
Step Up, Canada! was a campaign for climate action launched by Toronto350.org in partnership with the Toronto-based People's Climate Movement. Our campaign was focused on direct public outreach to the broader Toronto community, helping people make the links between climate change, the Canadian federal election, and the upcoming international climate negotiations happening this year in Paris at COP21.
Our central message was that Canada urgently needs to "step up" in its ambition on climate action, and play its part both in implementing sound national climate policy and engaging on the global stage. Our public presentations gave Canadians the information & tools they need to make an informed decision as voters going into the upcoming federal election, helping to shape public opinion on climate.
It's time for Canada to Step Up!
4) UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO: DIVEST FOSSIL FUELS!
In order to avoid dangerous climate change, the world needs to redirect investment from fossil fuels to alternative forms of energy that are compatible with a safe climate.
The University of Toronto's $2.1 Billion is heavily invested in the fossil fuel industry. Governments and organizations around the world have recognized warming of 2˚C as the threshold where climate change will become dangerous. If we want to stay below that limit, we can emit no more than 565 billion tonnes (gigatonnes) of carbon dioxide. Global fossil reserves contain 2,795 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide, more than enough to drive humanity off the 2˚C trajectory.
Investment in fossil fuel corporations such as Chevron drives the consumption of fossil fuel reserves which MUST remain underground in order to avoid dangerous climate change.
U of T has divested before, both from the tobacco industry, and from companies supporting South African Apartheid. For more about the effectiveness of divestment, have a look at gofossilfree.org/faq.
5) DIVEST THE OTPP
The project to divest the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP) was part of "Divest All The Things" campaign. This took divestment of fossil fuels beyond universities to include wider public interests wherever they exist in the Greater Toronto Area. We wanted to be a source of information, networking and suggestions that engage the public through demonstrations, social media, political action, art and ultimately taking personal action.
The group worked on fossil fuel divestment of the OTPP, one of the largest and most successful money management funds in the world. If they acknowledge the need for divestment, a strong signal would be sent to the rest of the investment sector: the time for divestment is now.
ARE YOU A TEACHER? TAKE ACTION
We also hope to support existing & build new campaigns for banks, individuals, municipalities like the City of Toronto and others.
Join this campaign to bring people together to make divestment a more effective movement and to ensure fossil fuels are left in the ground everywhere.