Tarsands Pipelines and Climate Change

Toronto350.org is one of many groups that signed onto this 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.

The Facts: 

  • 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.

A banner that says Energy East - Canada's Climate Test

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.

We also organized a People’s Climate Intervention petition that demonstrated Canadians care about our climate and our democracy, reminding Harper that 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.

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

Ecology Ottawa Report

Climate Implications of the Proposed Energy East Pipeline--Pembina Report

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 here.