18 Jun 2019

Trudeau government to make decision on controversial Canada oil pipeline

Justin Trudeau has a big decision on his hands – one that has divided Canada and will have a lasting impact on climate change globally.

Today the Canadian government will announce whether the construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline will go ahead. The 1,147 km pipeline would extend from northern Alberta’s tar sands right down to the west coast of British Columbia with the view to serve the Asian market.

The decision is putting Trudeau’s liberal values to the ultimate test. The pipeline construction will cost 4.5billion dollars but the returns are predicted to be 4.5 times that, tripling the amount of oil exported to overseas markets.

For climate change scientists and environmentalists, building a pipeline to create more oil production is precisely the opposite of what Canada should be doing right now. Just this month the Canadian government released a landmark climate change report that found that Canada is warming twice as fast as any other country in the world. As it stands Canada will not reach its own carbon emission reduction target nor will it meet the 2030 Paris climate target. This is almost entirely due to increasing emissions from the oil and gas sector in northern Alberta.

Not only are scientists alarmed with the project but the pipeline would also cut through the sacred land of 40 indigenous communities, under the Fraser River and Brunette River, across British Columbia’s pristine conservation areas to the Pacific coast. From there, the oil will flow across the Pacific adding the possibility of oil spills to the growing list of potential environmental disasters.

Inigo Gilmore and his team have travelled the length of the pipeline to see just how divided the country is over this controversial project.

From Edmonton, Alberta to Burnaby, British Columbia they speak to oil workers and First Nation activists, politicians and indigenous leaders, those who are vocal supporters and those who have set up barricades and blocked pipeline construction.

They discover that not all of the indigenous communities are against the pipeline. In fact, some have already signed up for benefit agreements whilst others have protested, been arrested, fought off heavily armed police and pledge to resist to the bitter end.