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NEWS: Harper’s arguments for KXL in advance of massive DC protest

The Globe and Mail reports, “As more than twenty thousand activists prepare to converge in front of the White House this weekend to oppose Keystone XL, the Harper government plans to use a two-track message to persuade the U.S. government to approve the pipeline. It will claim to be as serious about battling climate change as President Barack Obama, and will stress the national security and economic benefits that would result from the project’s construction.”

1- ‘Serious about battling climate change’?

“(The Harper government will argue that) both governments have committed under the 2009 Copenhagen accord to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17 per cent from 2005 levels by 2020. And Ottawa has moved in tandem with Washington to impose increasingly tough fuel-efficiency standards over the next decade, while passing regulations to phase out traditional coal-fired power plants… (It will also argue that) in 2010, the emissions from the sector represented 0.01 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.”

-The emission reduction target of 17 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020 is in reality is about a 2.5 per cent increase over 1990 levels (the baseline year more commonly used for reduction goals).

-In February 2011 Postmedia News reported, “The Harper government’s existing climate change policies won’t stop greenhouse gas emissions from increasing to levels that are nearly 30 per cent higher than its new target for 2020 under the Copenhagen Accord, Environment Canada has revealed. …Canada’s annual emissions would rise by about 16 per cent above 2005 levels by 2020 if there is no government action to fight climate change. (And even with) new standards to reduce tailpipe emissions from new passenger vehicles, annual emissions would rise by 7 per cent.”

-At present, the tar sands accounts for about 5 per cent of Canada’s emissions, some 40 mega-tonnes of greenhouse gases a year. By 2020, it is predicted that the tar sands will grow to account for 12 per cent of our national emissions. That would mean that Canada’s tar sands alone would produce more greenhouse gases than Austria, Belgium, Portugal, Ireland or Denmark.

-The Globe and Mail article today notes, the measure to phase out of coal-fired power plants “will have little impact before 2020”.

2- ‘National security and economic benefits’?

While the news article does not tell us how the Harper government will approach this argument, it is likely to build on a letter sent by House Republicans to President Obama last week seeking his approval for Keystone. They wrote, “Keystone XL would also advance our national security. By providing secure access to petroleum from Canada, we would reduce our reliance on energy imports from countries in the OPEC cartel. The U.S. would be less vulnerable to political and security-related disruptions of our energy supply.”

-For there to be real national security, atmospheric carbon levels need to be stabilized at 350 parts per million. Current levels are already at 387 ppm and rising at about 2 ppm annually. There can be no national security without climate security.

3- ‘Science and the facts’?

And just this past weekend, Harper’s minister of natural resources Joe Oliver repeated this third argument long used by the Harper government. Speaking about US Secretary of State John Kerry, Oliver stated, “He’s not driven in his passionate concern about climate change and the environment. He’s not driven by ideology. He’s driven by science and the facts, and that what drives us as well.”

-The science and facts of climate change are clear, and that the US should make the decision on the basis of science and facts, not profit-driven motives. As noted in today’s Globe and Mail article, “Canadian cabinet ministers have said that climate concerns should not derail the Keystone XL pipeline, which would deliver 850,000 barrels of bitumen to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast. The lack of pipeline capacity is exacting an economic toll on Alberta by driving down the price that producers get for their oil. The province is anticipating a $6-billion drop in revenues as a result, and federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said Ottawa also expects its revenues to be weaker as a result of the industry’s problems.”

Brent Patterson, the Political Director for the Council of Canadians, will be present at the #ForwardOnClimate rally in Washington, DC this coming weekend and we are encouraging our supporters to be present as well,