22 May 2019, Unceded Coast Salish Territory (Vancouver, BC) – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was interrupted during his speech at a fundraiser by Indigenous leaders demanding he cancel the Trans Mountain pipeline today in downtown Vancouver. Outside, Indigenous community members, community groups, conservationists and students called on the Liberal government to take the climate emergency seriously and demonstrate their commitment by cancelling the pipeline and tanker project that would add more than 70 mega tonnes of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere every year.
The crowd of around two hundred was accompanied by a Jumbotron crowd funded by Leadnow and SumOfUs members with the message “Trudeau, No Pipelines in a Climate Emergency”.
Will George, Tsleil-Waututh community member and spiritual leader of Protect the Inlet, attended the fundraiser and interrupted the Prime Minister as he began speaking, “As long as Justin Trudeau continues to come to BC and sell his dirty pipeline, I’ll be here to tell him that he will be met with fierce opposition. He sells his story of truth and reconciliation and tells the world that he wants to be a climate leader while buying a diluted bitumen pipeline.”
There has been no formal accounting of climate pollution from the Trans Mountain pipeline and tanker project from the federal government, but a study commissioned by the City of Vancouver determined the downstream climate impacts of greenhouse gas pollution to be 71.1 Mt Co2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) annually, roughly equivalent to 13,694,444 passenger vehicles driven for one year or the amount of carbon sequestered by 75,912,447 acres of forest in a year.
“Dangerous wildfires fueled by the climate crisis are forcing evacuations in northern Alberta, but while firefighting crews from across the country are rushing to tackle the fires, Justin Trudeau and his cabinet are considering re-approving a tar sands pipeline.” said Sven Biggs, Climate and Energy Campaigner for Stand.earth. “I hope that he hears the message today that you can not be a leader in the fight against climate change while you are building a pipeline.”
New Environment Canada research published in Nature Communications reveals that oil sands emissions have been underestimated by 64%, adding urgency to the call to evaluate the full climate impacts of the project, while the Liberal government has a motion to declare Canada in a “Climate Emergency” in the House of Commons this week as the 2019 federal election campaign heats up.
“The climate crisis is a top issue for voters in this election, and that will increase through wildfire season. If Trudeau approves this pipeline, he’ll destroy his credibility as a climate leader — and that could cost him the election,” says Sonia Theroux, Co-Executive Director of social change advocacy group, Leadnow. “Millennials, now the largest vote block in Canada, were key to his 2015 win and they won’t elect a pipeline Prime Minister.”
The event was organized by the Wilderness Committee, Lead Now, SumofUs, Stand.Earth, Coast Protectors/UBCIC, and Protect the Inlet.