G7 Oceans Summit in Halifax focused on 'oceans plastic charter'

The meeting of G7 Environment, Oceans and Energy Ministers is happening in Halifax this week, and yesterday they held an expo at our recently-completed P3 Trade Centre. Solidarity Halifax organized an info picket for the event, which included some of us going inside to hand out leaflets while others stayed outside to hold signs and hand out leaflets about offshore drilling.

Canada’s Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna is hosting the event, focused on gaining momentum for the Plastics Charter signed by most leaders at the G7 meeting in Charlevoix Québec in June (the United States and Japan did not sign).

The hypocrisy in calling the G7 ministerial meeting, “Working Together on Climate Change, Oceans and Clean Energy”, and hosting it in a province where our Environment Minister approved BP to drill in our oceans, is incredible.

I had the opportunity to give Minister McKenna one of our handbills before she went on stage. As luck would have it, she decided to visit the Parks Canada booth at the expo. BP’s drill site is around 50kms from Sable Island National Park Reserve, so the timing was particularly fitting.

       

The National Observer has reported, "The new BP rig floats near to two crucial habitats. Sable Island National Park Reserve is its closest neighbour sitting 48 kilometers from the drill site, and the Gully Marine Protected Area is 71 kilometers away. The two ecosystems, home to a vast array of life including northern bottlenose whales, rare corals, and the famed wild horses of Sable Island, are vulnerable to a spill due to their proximity to the site. Also vulnerable to oil spills, increased underwater noise pollution and the potential of being struck by BP ships, are the few remaining North Atlantic right whales."

We’ve been raising concerns with BP’s proximity to Sable Island and Marine Protected Areas like the Gully, along with many other issues like the threat to good sustainable jobs in existing industries like the fisheries and tourism, and emergency response plans like a capping stack at least 12 days away, the use of booms to contain a spill in the North Atlantic, and no relief well being required. In addition to this, continued fossil fuel extraction is the opposite direction we need to go to address climate change.

Our efforts continue in the coming weeks with events October 2nd-4th called "Creating Offshore Resistance Everywhere", which include a rally, panel discussions, and a flotilla. Please come if you can, and continue to learn more and share our petition calling on Minister McKenna and PM Justin Trudeau to stop BP offshore Nova Scotia, and to abandon Bill C-69 which would give greater powers to the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board.

I am by no means suggesting that the plastic situation our world is currently facing isn’t important. McKenna has been quoted in the CBC stating, "We know plastic ... is literally choking our lakes and rivers and we have to take steps to stop that or we'll have more plastic pollution than fish by 2050."

The CBC piece goes on to say, “However, the plastics accord discussion — occurring in a province that relies on a healthy marine environment for fishing and tourism — has strong political appeal, say some observers.”

Banning BP and offshore drilling in NS would also have strong grassroots appeal, although perhaps not to the oil industry which enjoys major subsidies that the G7 no longer even discusses at their regular summit meetings.

As reported yesterday by the National Observer, “Canada is the largest provider of fossil fuel subsidies in the G7, per unit of GDP, according to a recent study by the International Institute for Sustainable Development. The G7 pledged in 2016 to eliminate them by 2025. But last year the group dropped any reference to oil and gas handouts, and this year such references were similarly absent.”

For more information about our campaign on offshore drilling NS, visit our website here.

Here’s a blog from Brent Patterson this past May called, “Will the G7 summit 'healthy oceans' session on June 9 discuss offshore oil and gas drilling?