Canada gives green light to controversial oil project

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The government of Canada, the world’s fourth largest oil producer, has given its approval to the construction of a major controversial oil project in the Atlantic Ocean, announced Wednesday, April 6, the Minister of the Environment Steven Guilbeault.

Named Bay du Nord and supported for years by the Norwegian giant Equinor, it will make it possible to exploit a deposit located more than a thousand meters deep and located 500 kilometers off the coast of Newfoundland. The commissioning is scheduled for 2028. It will be the fifth oil platform of its kind in Canada and it will allow the extraction of approximately 300 million barrels of oil over thirty years, according to the company.

“The Bay du Nord development project can proceed, subject to some of the most stringent environmental conditions ever imposed, including the historic requirement for an oil and gas project to achieve carbon neutrality by to 2050”said the minister and ex-climate activist in a press release.

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According to a comprehensive environmental assessment, the project is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects, he added. “The world still needs oil”then told Radio Canada the one who had been chosen for the portfolio of Minister of the Environment, in October 2021, by Justin Trudeau, for his past as an activist.

Raising of shields

The announcement immediately provoked an outcry from environmental groups. “Approving Bay du Nord is another step towards an unlivable future”said Julia Levin of Environmental Defence, and a “slap in the face for climate scientists, communities in Canada and around the world affected by the climate crisis”.

For Greenpeace, this decision is the “triumph” of policies that do not “that worsen the climate crisis and the global dependence on fossil fuels that burn the planet”.

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These organizations recall that the Secretary General of the United Nations (UN) Antonio Guterres described as “madness” the persistent dependence on fossil fuels, a “addiction that leads us to collective destruction”.

According to the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), to respect a rise in temperatures limited to +1.5°C, the use of coal without carbon capture (an immature technology at scale) should be completely halted and those of oil and gas reduced by 60% and 70% respectively by 2050 compared to 2019 levels.

“Dunce” in the face of climate change

Several political parties have also denounced this decision by the Canadian government, in particular the New Democratic Party (NDP, left), allied in the Parliament of Ottawa to the Liberals of Justin Trudeau. “It shows exactly what is wrong with this government. They listen to their buddies in the oil and gas sector instead of listening to climate scientists”denounced Laurel Collins, NDP environment critic.

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As for the Bloc Québécois, the country’s third-largest parliamentary party, it believes that Canada “confirms its dunce position in the fight against climate change” and that this decision “sounds the death knell of credibility” of the Minister of the Environment.

The dilemma was such on this project that the decision has been postponed twice in recent months, especially since Justin Trudeau has often been criticized in recent years for his decisions related to the oil sector, in particular for having nationalized an oil pipeline in 2018. He had made strong climate commitments during the last election campaign and affirmed in October 2021 that it was necessary “make sure the oil and gas industry stops increasing emissions and starts reducing them”.

Le Monde and AFP

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