Because it is 2015!

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Last November, the newly elected Prime Minister justified his choices with the answer «Because this is 2015!», meaning we have to adapt new methods to face the challenges of our times. This is the message that Mr Montpetit is sending to Premier Rachel Notley and the province of Alberta.

Because this is 2015!

On the French network of the CBC, Premier Rachel Notley is reportedly adamant that a post-carbon Canada can only be achieved through the building of pipelines[1]. She claims that the revenues from petroleum are necessary to finance the reduction of greenhouse gases (GHG). Furthermore she scolds people who disagree with her because they are like «une bande de village»; in other words, «country bumpkins».

Would Premier Notley kindly explain to me how building pipelines to increase the production and the consumption of petroleum can possibly reduce the production of GHG? To my mind, this intrinsic contradiction simply does not add up!

I can understand that Alberta faces economic hardships; Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that the cabinet meeting would examine the challenges that Alberta has to face because the price of petroleum has fallen through the floor.[2] But in 2015-16, is the building of pipelines an appropriate remedy for the economic woes of Alberta?

If I may paraphrase the editorial of the Guardian, the climate change treaty ( Cop 21) must result in concrete action[3]. Building new infrastructure (such as pipelines) to promote the consumption of GHG producing petroleum is clearly a very desperate step in the wrong direction.

The time for change is now! Why? As the newly elected Prime Minister has said;«Because this is 2015». This is the year of the Conference of Paris. World leaders agreed that climate change must remain below the 2 degree C mark. Even Saudi Arabia is trying to build a post petroleum economy using a 2 trillion dollar fund[4]! Yet, they have greater reserves than Alberta; and these are of conventional petroleum! In other words cheaper to pump and with less greenhouse gases.

So, how about moving in the direction of a diversified, post-carbon economy right now? Renewable energies can create more jobs than the obsolete petroleum industry. Furthermore since «Western Canadian Select» (tar sands) is usually worth about 15 dollars less than a light crude like «Brent» on world markets, a carbon tax would be a further handicap for your ailing industry. «… The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund are pressing governments to impose a price tag on planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions, using economic leverage and technical assistance … But the leaders of the World Bank, the I.M.F. and other major global institutions say cutting emissions enough to stave off the worst effects of climate change will not be possible unless all fossil fuel polluters are forced to pay for the carbon dioxide they emit.…»[5]

Why cling to the past? To dream of a bright future for the tar sands is like dreaming of a huge chuck wagon factory! A chuck wagon is cute during the Calgary Stampede, but you wouldn’t want to use this archaic mode of transportation for your daily transit. We cannot return to those good old days! Carbon tax, a perennially underpriced «Western Canadian Select», the agreement during the Conference of Paris and climate change are the writing on the wall for the tar sands. It’s over! This is 2015!

Gérard Montpetit

La Présentation, Qc.,

J0H 1B0

Tuesday, April 26, 2016