OTTAWA – Teck Resources’ abrupt withdrawal from the massive Frontier oil sands project has ignited an emergency debate in the House of Commons today. The Green Party of Canada is pleased but not surprised that the project was dropped by the proponent. Economic conditions have changed dramatically in the nine years since the the project was proposed. The price of oil has dropped from $95/barrel in 2011, to $55/barrel in 2020. The price of oil is unlikely to recover given that the market is reflecting a strong desire for climate action. Major companies like J. P. Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Equinor and Blackstone are all divesting and diversifying away from fossil fuels.
“Canadians have no appetite for new fossil fuel mega-projects during a climate emergency,” said Green MP Paul Manly (Nanaimo-Ladysmith). ”It’s time for the Alberta government to start thinking outside the oil sands. They need to work on re-aligning their economy instead of pinning all their hopes and dreams on fossil fuels in the age of a climate crisis. Albertans are smart and innovative people. They need support from their government to begin this economic transition.”
Mr. Manly pointed out that First Nations often agree to these projects because of a lack of fundamental basic resources in their communities and the projects get pushed through anyway. In an interview with the Globe and Mail, Chief Allan Adam of the Fort Chipewyan Nation said this about his decision to agree to the Teck Frontier mine. “We’ve been fighting industry for how long? And we’ve spent well over $1 million in court fees with nothing tangible in return… So what am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to continue on fighting as a chief while others sit on the fence and say nothing and do nothing? I don’t want to do this. I didn’t want to make this decision but I had no choice. I had to make sure my nation was protected, and that our people are going to benefit from it for the future.”
Other First Nations such as the Smiths Landing First Nation were not consulted because they are across the Alberta-NWT border. But they live downstream and so would have been seriously affected had the Teck mine gone ahead.
“The arithmetic of meeting our Paris commitments is an exercise in subtraction- not addition,” said Green Party Parliamentary Leader Elizabeth May (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands). “We cannot add a single additional ton of carbon to the atmosphere without jeopardizing our children’s future.”
“Climate change is a scientific reality and should not be used as a political football,” said Green Party interim Leader Jo-Ann Roberts. “The financial markets are telling us that it’s time for decisive climate action and it is incumbent upon all politicians to see how we can do that most effectively. We must take aggressive action with respect to our resource industry that will ensure a clean, vibrant and healthy economy for all Canadians. Polarized discussion is not productive. Now is the time for collaboration and real leadership.”
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