No 1839 Posted by fw, December 4, 2016
“As Greenpeace said, ‘There are no good jobs on a dead planet.’… A very important study came out just weeks ago, which I think Justin Trudeau either has no concept of or has decided to completely ignore…. the authors computed the warming over the next 85 years… that could result from human induced business-as-usual greenhouse gas emission scenarios… would be 5.9 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels…. it’s inconceivable that he doesn’t know – that, at the end of the day, pulling all that oil out of the ground and burning it is going to wreck the planet.” —Dimitri Lascaris, TRNN
In addition to looking at the scientific context in which Trudeau made his existential pipeline decisions to play dice with our future, Lascaris also reviews public reaction to Trudeau’s announcement and boldly predicts “It won’t be built, despite the wishes of the business community.”
While dire climate change warnings tend to be ignored by the public – “What, another apocalypse warning!” — Canadians are unlikely to be as blasé about Dimitri’s brief profile of Catherine McKenna, Trudeau’s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change:
“Catherine McKenna was a Bay Street lawyer at a law firm called Stikeman Elliot, one of the largest, most lucrative, most prestigious law firms in Canada. It boasts openly about its work for the oil industry, and has derived huge revenues for its work for the oil industry. She then went off, after working at Stikeman Elliot where her expertise was in competition law, and she was in-house counsel to the Canadian Real Estate Association, which is basically a lobby organization. And she lobbied against, in Parliament, some competition law related legislation, which was consumer friendly. From that she went into her political career…. We unfortunately have in the most important ministry within the Trudeau government a person who is pro-corporate in her outlook. I don’t think we can count on Catherine McKenna to put a stop to these misguided and destructive pipeline projects.”
The 20-minute video interview of Dimitri Lascaris is embedded below, along with my abridged chronologically indexed transcript, added subheadings, hyperlinks to related sources, and a SEE ALSO link to the new science study Dimitri cites.
Alternatively, click on the following linked title to access the video interview sans transcript.
Dimitri Lascaris says the worsening prospects of climate change negates any potential economic benefits from tar sands development.
MY ABRIDGED TRANSCRIPT
00:00-01:02 — Sharmini Peries, TRNN – On Tuesday Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approved the highly controversial 6.8 billion Canadian dollar Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline. The project would nearly triple the amount of Alberta oil sands that will be transported to the Vancouver area port, which is just across the water from a First Nations reserve on the Pacific coast. But just because the Prime Minister signed off on it does not make it a done deal, at least not when it comes to the Kinder Morgan pipeline, as many indigenous people, environmental groups and some municipalities along route are gearing up to take on Kinder Morgan Inc. of Houston, Texas, the biggest energy infrastructure company in the US, and the Prime Minster’s decision.
01:03-01:43 – Omitted from transcript a video clip of interview with Ruben George of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation, reacting to news of Trudeau’s approval of Kinder Morgan pipeline.
01:44-02:21 — Peries – [Welcomes Dimitri Lascaris]. Billions of dollars are probably going to be spent on all of these pipelines and the transportation of oil sands. This is all seen as an economic boost in Canada. Is it?
02:22-06:52 – Dimitri Lascaris – As Greenpeace said, “There are no good jobs on a dead planet.” Let’s step back and revisit where we currently stand. The science of the climate is constantly evolving and scientists are constantly updating their views as this evidence becomes available and methods become more sophisticated. It’s always important to start the discussion from where we currently stand in terms of our scientific understanding.
If we continue doing what we’re doing, by 2100 we will be 5.9 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels
A very important study came out just weeks ago, which I think Justin Trudeau either has no concept of or has decided to completely ignore. The study came out in Science Advances, which concluded that warm climates are more sensitive to change in carbon dioxide levels than cold climates. One of the authors of that study said that currently our planet is in a warm phase, an interglacial period, and the associated increased climate sensitivity needs to be taken into account for future projections of warming induced by human activities. And this is a key conclusion using these estimates based on earth’s paleoclimate sensitivity — the authors computed the warming over the next 85 years – between now and 2100 – that could result from human induced business-as-usual greenhouse gas emission scenarios — that means we essentially continue to do what we’re doing – would be 5.9 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Again, that’s by 2100.
So, if you’re a child today, and you’re living the average lifespan of a Canadian or American, you would see the majority of that warming – 5.9 degrees Celsius – within your lifetime. You would see us get close to that limit.
A warming level above 4 degrees Celsius would make Earth uninhabitable
Climate scientists agree that civilization as we know it could not exist above a level that is significantly lower than 5.9 degrees Celsius. Kevin Anderson, a well-regarded climate scientist, has been outspoken about the severity of the climate crisis – and some scientists think he’s too optimistic – has projected that approximately 10% of the human population would survive at a warming level above 4 degrees Celsius. The study I just mentioned talked about almost 6 degrees Celsius. So, within our lifetimes, if we continue with business-as-usual, we are going to hit 4 degrees Celsius well before 2100. And above that level, scientists are telling us that the vast majority of the human population cannot survive.
Continue to develop the tar sands and it’s game over for the climate, warned James Hansen in 2012
One other thing I want to add about the context, which was said by James Hansen in a 2012 New York Times op-ed, if we Canadians continue to develop the tar sands, then, in his words, it’s game over for the climate. What he meant was we would have a climate that would not enable us to maintain civilization as we have understood it.
This is the context in which Justin Trudeau has approved the Kinder Morgan pipeline.
The Kinder Morgan pipeline is a major project. It would run from Northern Alberta, the heart of the tar sands, down to Vancouver and would transport nearly 900,000 barrels a day of primarily diluted bitumen – a dangerous type of fossil fuel byproduct to transport – to the BC west coast. From there it would be destined for a dock in Burnaby BC, which is near Vancouver, and loaded onto oil takers that would navigate past Vancouver heading westward to the major markets of India and China.
The oil would not stay in Canada. It would be refined abroad. Most importantly, it would be pulling out of the ground the fossil fuels that the scientists tell us we have to leave in the ground in order to have any hope of avoiding an existential climate crisis.
06:53-07:39 – Peries – Here we have a Prime Minister Trudeau of this generation that is concerned about the environment. He’s also a father with young kids. He also had been a teacher. This seems to be going against the grain of what he campaigned on, the community that he’s appealing to in terms of the younger demographic, and so on. Why is he doing this? I imagine he knows the consequences and the science that you’re talking about.
In 2012 Trudeau made no secret of favouring pipeline expansion, again during 2015 election campaign
07:40-10:38 – Lascaris – To be fair to Justin Trudeau, he didn’t make much of a secret during the campaign, although he chose his forums carefully when he said these sorts of things, but he didn’t make much of a secret that he was in favour of expanding pipeline infrastructure. A day after declaring his candidacy for the Liberal Party in 2012, Trudeau went to Calgary, the heart of Canada’s oil industry, and said “There is not a country in the world that would find 170 billion barrels of oil and leave it in the ground.” We learned during the campaign last year that he was inclined to approve at least one if not more major pipeline projects like Kinder Morgan.
Just to comment on what he said, that there’s not a country in the world that would leave this in the ground. There are very few countries in the world that have this much oil in the ground. Furthermore, why should what other countries would do, why should that set the standard for what Canada will do?
Canada should live up to the claims of successive Canadian governments to be a moral leader
What Canada should do is live up to its promise, and the claims of successive Canadian governments to be a moral leader. To set an example for the world. To be a beacon of social justice for the world, and environmental responsibility for the world. This is the lip service, the rhetoric we’ve been hearing from the Trudeau government and prior Canadian governments.
It’s inconceivable Trudeau doesn’t know that increasing production of tar sands oil will wreck the planet
Even if it were true that no other country in the world would leave all that oil in the ground, that doesn’t oblige us morally to use it, to consume it, to sell it to foreign markets; especially when we know, as he must – it’s inconceivable that he doesn’t know – that, at the end of the day, pulling all that oil out of the ground and burning it is going to wreck the planet.
Kinder Morgan pipeline construction is inconsistent with Canada’s ‘inadequate’ Paris climate accord commitments
Why a man of his youth, a father, somebody of his intelligence and education, would pursue projects of this nature, in the face of the scientific evidence is something which I think people a lot smarter than me are going to have to explain one day, because I can’t explain it. All I can say is that the science is quite clear. The construction of this type of pipeline infrastructure is radically inconsistent with the commitments that Canada has made under the Paris climate accord. And even those commitments are inadequate. They’re the emission reduction commitments of the prior government, Stephen Harper, one of the world’s leading climate change obstructionists. While he was in office, the Liberal party of Justin Trudeau criticized him, and quite rightly, for those targets.
Trudeau’s promise to take climate change seriously is irreconcilable with Kinder Morgan approval
It’s a remarkable thing that we have somebody like Justin Trudeau telling us that Canada is back, that Canada is a moral leader, that Canada is going to confront the climate change crisis seriously and responsibly while approving projects of this nature. You cannot reconcile the two positions.
10:39-11:23 – Peries – Is there any resistance to this going on in Canada?
Canada’s environmental community has drawn a red line in the tar sands and won’t allow Trudeau to cross it
11:24-12:47 – Lascaris – There’s already been resistance. Dozens of Canadians were arrested in British Columbia, resisting engineering work that was being done by Kinder Morgan to lay the groundwork for this pipeline project, that happened recently. There was a high-ranking official of the BC government who came out recently and warned Trudeau that he needs a Plan B, some alternate route, because the level of resistance on the ground was going to be unprecedented.
My own prediction is that this project will never be built. I don’t believe that He’s going to be able to overcome the resistance. What we’re about to see is a level of grassroots resistance that will make even Standing Rock in North Dakota look like a walk in the park. This is to many people in the environmental community a red line. They’re not going to allow our government to cross it. Ultimately what this will do is discredit the Trudeau government. It won’t be built, despite the wishes of the business community. It’s clear that this is exactly what the business community wants.
12:48-12:51 – Peries – Where are the labour unions on this issue?
12:52-15:49 – Lascaris – Omitted from my transcript.
17:34-17:48 – Peries – Where is [Environment/Climate Change Minister] Catherine McKenna on the building of this pipeline?
Don’t count on former Bay Street lawyer, now Liberal minster Catherine McKenna, to stop the pipeline projects
17:49-15:49 – Lascaris – It’s interesting how the Canadian mainstream media has treated Catherine McKenna. They’ve treated her as a darling of the environmental movement. If you examine her history there’s no reason to have confidence that’s she’s committed to the fight against climate change.
Catherine McKenna was a Bay Street lawyer at a law firm called Stikeman Elliot, one of the largest, most lucrative, most prestigious law firms in Canada. It boasts openly about its work for the oil industry, and has derived huge revenues for its work for the oil industry. She then went off, after working at Stikeman Elliot where her expertise was in competition law, and she was in-house counsel to the Canadian Real Estate Association, which is basically a lobby organization. And she lobbied against, in Parliament, some competition law related legislation, which was consumer friendly. From that she went into her political career.
If you look at her biography on the Liberal Party website, there’s no mention of this at all. No reference to the fact that she was a Bay Street lawyer, that she was a registered lobbyist, that she was in-house counsel to the Canadian Real Estate Association and opposed consumer-friendly competition legislation. Nothing whatsoever.
There’s a reason McKenna keeps her pro-corporate background hidden from the public
If you look at her record, you will see no indication that prior to becoming the environment minister she was an advocate for the environmental movement, or that she was seriously engaged in fighting against the climate crisis. She was parachuted into that role as someone who was steeped in a corporate culture. Two of the people I interviewed at COP22 were members of the Canadian Youth Delegation. They said we were fighting tooth and nail just to get 15 minutes with the environment minister but she was quite happy to give her time to CEOs, including those from the fossil fuel industry who had travelled to Marrakesh to make their case.
So, we unfortunately have in the most important ministry within the Trudeau government a person who is pro-corporate in her outlook. I don’t think we can count on Catherine McKenna to put a stop to these misguided and destructive pipeline projects.
END OF ABRIDGED TRANSCRIPT
Nonlinear climate sensitivity and its implications for future greenhouse warming by Tobias Friedrich et al., Science Advances, November 2, 2016 – “We find that within the 21st century, global mean temperatures will very likely exceed maximum levels reconstructed for the last 784,000 years. On the basis of temperature data from eight glacial cycles, our results provide an independent validation of the magnitude of current Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) warming projections.”
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