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Trudeau pushes tar sands exports through Kinder Morgan pipeline and Canada-China FTA

The Trudeau government wants to increase oil and gas exports to China – a dangerous agenda that could be entrenched through a Canada-China Free Trade Agreement.

Last month, Natural Resources minister Jim Carr stated, “We have to expand our export markets in all of our natural resources. And that is why China is so important to us. That’s why we approved a pipeline to take Alberta crude to the West Coast, and then on to Asia. …The government of Canada is committed to the Trans Mountain expansion project. We believe it’s in the national interest for all of the reasons that we have expressed – job creation, expansion of export markets. …At the moment, China represents only a fraction of our oil exports and none of our natural gas. We’re looking to change that.”

Tim McMillan, the president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, accompanied Carr on a recent trip to China along with executives from oil and gas corporations to push this agenda.

The Globe and Mail reports, “The International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts China’s oil demand will continue to rise – so much so that, by the early 2030s, it will surpass the United States as the world’s largest consumer. And China’s dependence on imported crude will grow – rising from roughly 65 per cent today to 80 per cent in a decade, estimates Bo Qiang Lin, dean of the China Institute for Studies in Energy Policy at Xiamen University. …Dwindling supplies from places such as Venezuela will add to China’s appetite for heavy oil, the kind extracted from Canada’s oil sands.”

That article notes that Sushant Gupta, the director of Asia Pacific refining at energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie, “expects the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline from Alberta to British Columbia will direct 500,000 barrels a day of Canadian crude to Asia, primarily China, some time after 2020.”

A Canada-China FTA would very likely include the controversial ‘investment protection’ provision that would strengthen a similar provision in the Canada-China Foreign Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement (FIPA). And like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) this provides a disciplinary tool that inhibits governments from taking meaningful action to address climate change such as limiting damaging investments in the fossil fuel industry, prioritizing water for drinking and community use rather than for extractive industries, or respecting the Indigenous right to free, prior and informed consent for projects on their territories.

The Trudeau government, like the Harper government before it, has pledged to reduce carbon emissions 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. Translated into the more commonly used baseline of 1990 levels, that promise equals just 14 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030 (well below the European Union target of a 40 per cent reduction by 2030).

And even with that very weak target, Environment Canada reported in March that, with the policies in place as of November 2016, Canada would pump out at least 30 per cent more carbon pollution than promised in 2030. Trudeau has promised to cut emissions to 523 megatonnes a year by 2030, but estimates are Canada will be emitting 697 to 790 megatonnes by that time.

The Council of Canadians calls on the Trudeau government to act responsibly by reversing its Kinder Morgan approval, ending ‘free trade’ agreements that prevent the necessary regulation of corporations, setting meaningful and scientifically-based emission reduction targets, and committing to a 100 per cent clean energy economy for 2050.