Skip to content founder McKibben calls Trudeau a “stunning hypocrite” on climate change

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow and founder Bill McKibben

Bill McKibben, the founder of the climate campaign calls Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a “stunning hypocrite” for saying “all the right things” but at the same time also “claiming the right to sell the oil that will use up a third of the earth’s remaining carbon budget”.

McKibben writes in The Guardian, “Donald Trump is so spectacularly horrible that it’s hard to look away – especially now that he’s discovered bombs. But precisely because everyone’s staring gape-mouthed in his direction, other world leaders are able to get away with almost anything. Don’t believe me? Look one nation north, at Justin Trudeau.”

He notes, “Trudeau says all the right things, over and over [but] those words are meaningless if you keep digging up more carbon and selling it to people to burn, and that’s exactly what Trudeau is doing. He’s hard at work pushing for new pipelines through Canada and the US to carry yet more oil out of Alberta’s tar sands, which is one of the greatest climate disasters on the planet. Last month, speaking at a Houston petroleum industry gathering, he got a standing ovation from the oilmen for saying: ‘No country would find 173bn barrels of oil in the ground and just leave them there.'”

McKibben then highlights, “Yes, 173bn barrels is indeed the estimate for recoverable oil in the tar sands. So let’s do some math. If Canada digs up that oil and sells it to people to burn, it will produce, according to the math whizzes at Oil Change International, 30% of the carbon necessary to take us past the 1.5C target that Canada helped set in Paris. That is to say, Canada, which represents one half of 1% of the planet’s population, is claiming the right to sell the oil that will use up a third of the earth’s remaining carbon budget. Trump is a creep and a danger and unpleasant to look at, but at least he’s not a stunning hypocrite.”

And he concludes, “This having-your-cake-and-burning-it-too is central to Canada’s self-image/energy policy. McKenna, confronted by Canada’s veteran environmentalist David Suzuki, said tartly: ‘We have an incredible climate change plan that includes putting a price on carbon pollution, also investing in clean innovation. But we also know we need to get our natural resources to market and we’re doing both’. Right. But doing the second negates the first – in fact, it completely overwhelms it. If Canada is busy shipping carbon all over the world, it doesn’t matter all that much if every Tim Horton’s stopped selling donuts and started peddling solar panels instead.”

Trudeau’s climate record includes approvals of the:

  • Woodfibre LNG terminal = 0.81 million tonnes of carbon pollution a year

  • Pacific NorthWest LNG terminal = 11.8 to 14 million tonnes of emissions a year

  • TransCanada NOVA Gas Transmission Ltd. fracked gas pipeline = 1.2 to 1.4 million tonnes of upstream emissions a year

  • Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline = 19 to 26 million tonnes of upstream emissions a year

  • Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline = 20 to 26 million tonnes of emissions a year

The Trudeau government has also just appointed new members to the National Energy Board to enable the review of the Trans Canada Energy East pipeline (which would = 30 to 32 million tonnes of emissions a year) to proceed.

Despite the cumulative impacts of the 890,000 barrel per day Kinder Morgan pipeline and the 760,000 barrel per day Line 3 pipeline, the Liberals are not ruling out the 1.1 million barrel per day Energy East pipeline and back the 830,000 barrel per day TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline (recently approved by Trump).

As for Trudeau’s much touted carbon pricing scheme, Toronto Star national affairs columnist Thomas Walkom has written, “On its own, the carbon-price agreement is not enough to let Canada meet its climate targets. But in the end, it may be enough to convince enough Canadians that the pipelines from Alberta to the Pacific coast Trudeau wants should go ahead.”

The Council of Canadians supports the March for Jobs. Justice. Climate. on April 29. For information on the march nearest you, please click here.