Montreal, February 18th 2020- The IPCC is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It is the benchmark for scientific assessments related to climate change. The body is under the aegis of the United Nations and aims to inform, on a regular basis, the world's political class about the dangers of climate change and the strategies to be adopted.
When the IPCC speaks, we must listen to it! Unfortunately, Canada seems to turn a deaf ear when it comes to taking drastic measures to prevent temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees. One of the most recent examples of this willful blindness is the Teck Frontier mining project.
The Frontier Project
This project, located between Fort McMurray and Fort Chipewyan in northeastern Alberta, is an oil sands mine. This landscape scar would disfigure nearly 24,000 hectares and produce 4.5 megatonnes of carbon dioxide each year. Ultimately, these facilities aim to produce approximately 260,000 barrels of oil per day that would be transported by pipeline.
For the proponent, the project represents 7,000 temporary jobs during the construction period and 2,500 permanent jobs to maintain operations over a 41-year period. These figures also seem surprising given the rapid automation of transport trucks in particular.
In financial terms, the proponent projects economic benefits of close to $55 billion for the Alberta provincial government. The federal and municipal governments would receive $12 billion and $3.5 billion respectively.
What the promoter cleverly forgets to add is all the negative costs related to such a project, which are obviously the responsibility of the federal and provincial governments. These include the cost of developing the base camps that will be needed to accommodate the workers. They will have to be supplied with water and electricity. In addition, there are all the health costs caused by these mining activities, as well as the costs of cleaning up the site once the mine closes. Also, it is possible to consider that within the next forty-one years Canada will have signed binding agreements on its GHG emissions. Such agreements could force the purchase of carbon credits to maintain mine operations. In fact, these benefits are to be taken with a grain of salt.
Questionable government assessments
In the view of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and the Alberta Energy Regulator, who formed the assessment panel for the project, the panel must go ahead. This decision may seem surprising given the information available in their assessment report. Indeed, according to them, this project would cause the permanent destruction of many habitats and wetlands that make up nearly half of the site. This would have a significant negative impact on the bison herds as well as the caribou of the region. Twice the area of Vancouver Island would be subject to clear-cutting.
Furthermore, the panel points out the consequences for first nations whose traditional way of life would be threatened, as well as the related knowledge. Despite this, many communities have already signed agreements with the mining company. This is far from a question of enthusiasm on their part; it is more a question of being able to benefit financially from a project that seems inevitable.
In any event, the economic benefits mentioned above would, in the view of the intergovernmental panel, be sufficient justification for proceeding with the project. It must be said that the billions of dollars that the proponent promises are based on an estimate of the price of oil at $95 per barrel. This estimate seems very Utopian, given the current price, which is more in the vicinity of $50 and has never exceeded $75 for nearly six years. Clearly, Teck is betting that Canada's green wave will be very mild.
Greenhouse gas emissions: the crux of the matter
Under the commitments undertaken by Canada in Paris at COP 21, Canada is limited to the production of 168 megatonnes of GHGs by 2050. Thus, to see a project producing 4.5 megatonnes of carbon dioxide annually alone is absurd. Mr. Trudeau's double talk can no longer go on. We must take a clear position and act in a concerted manner in order to face the greatest challenge of our time.
The project must be approved by the federal authorities by the end of the month. It is therefore essential that we voice our opposition to this project. Please feel free to express your opposition by e-mail to the Prime Minister's Office at https://pm.gc.ca/en/connect/contact
. You can also call Mr. Trudeau's constituency office directly at 514-277-6020. Social networks are another way to make your voice heard through the click word #RejectTeck.