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McKenna dodges question on Energy East and 1.5 degrees Celsius target

Yesterday, the Council of Canadians issued a media statement highlighting that the Energy East and Trans Mountain pipelines were incompatible with the Trudeau government’s support of a reference to a 1.5 degrees Celsius goal in the COP 21 climate agreement now being negotiated in Paris.

Council of Canadians energy campaigner Andrea Harden stated, “Ambitious targets require ambitious actions. This means freezing tar sands expansion and planning for a transition towards a fossil-free economy by 2050.” And Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow noted, “Goals without actions to back them up are just more hot air – I think Canadians have run out of patience for that.”

Today, DeSmog Canada reports, “At a press briefing in Paris on Wednesday [Dec. 9] environment and climate change minister Catherine McKenna was asked to describe how Canada’s support of a new goal to limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius squares with the government’s apparent support for the Energy East pipeline. McKenna told a gathering of reporters that she prefers not to speak to individual projects. ‘I don’t like just looking at one particular development. We are looking at how we are going to make progress towards a low carbon economy.'”

That is a non-answer.

The Energy East pipeline alone would produce about 32 million tonnes of carbon emissions a year and allow for a 40 per cent increase in the tar sands.

We have highlighted in numerous blogs that British researchers at University College London have concluded that 85 per cent of the tar sands would have to be left in the ground to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius. That study specified that no more than 7.5 billion barrels of oil from the tar sands can be produced over the next 35 years. The proposed Energy East pipeline alone would exceed that carbon budget within about 19 years. A 1.5 degrees Celsius target would mean even fewer barrels of oil could be extracted from the tar sands and shipped via Energy East.

While the Trudeau government supports including in the COP 21 agreement a reference to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, various newspaper reports have cautioned that this target would not be legally binding and stops short of asserting the limit should be 1.5 degrees Celsius, instead it would urge countries to do their best towards this goal.

Preventing a global rise in temperature by 1.5 degrees Celsius means reaching zero emissions by 2050. Please click here to sign our petition in support of that demand. Edmonton-based Council of Canadians organizer Diane Connors is with the Canadian Youth Delegation in Paris and they will attempt to deliver it to environment minister Catherine McKenna on Friday (Dec. 11).

Further reading
What to make of McKenna’s 1.5°C pledge? (Dec. 8, 2015)