June 18, 2019

Bronwen Tucker, bronwen [at]

Canada can’t declare a climate emergency and build the Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline too

Less than 24 hours after declaring a national climate emergency, the Trudeau government approved the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project (TMX). This approval follows ten months of extra review and consultation ordered by the Federal Court of Appeal and more than four years of delays won by an Indigenous-led movement. In response Bronwen Tucker, Edmonton-based analyst at Oil Change International, released the following statement:

“Approving the TMX pipeline one day after declaring climate emergency is like signing a peace treaty and then immediately detonating a $9.3 billion bomb. We know there is enough oil, gas, and coal in already-operating reserves to take us beyond safe limits of climate change, so we can’t afford to expand tar sands extraction any further.

“But let’s be clear: today’s decision does not mean TMX will be built. There remains a wall of people-powered opposition to this project ready to fight this approval in the courts, in the streets, and at the ballot box. We know it’s past time for a just transition to a fossil-free future.

“The Liberal government says they will ‘de-risk’ the pipeline, but the only way to do that while respecting Indigenous sovereignty and acting in line with the climate emergency is to cancel it. We need Trudeau to start acting like a climate leader instead of a fossil fuel CEO.”



  • According to Oil Change International’s model of the North American pipeline and refinery system, the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project would facilitate a major expansion of tar sands extraction – releasing as much as 130 million additional metric tons of CO2 per year. This would be equivalent to putting 28 million new cars on the road or operating 33 coal power stations.
  • It has been exactly 10 years since Canada and other G20 nations promised to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, and Trudeau’s government has recently released a draft review stating they consider there to be no further such subsidies at the federal level. However, Finance Minister Morneau and others’ comments that the government’s purchase of TMX is to “de-risk” the project constitutes a clear, potentially multi-billion dollar subsidy, according to the widely-accepted WTO definition.
  • Kinder Morgan Canada documents from the time of the pipeline’s sale in August 2018 estimate the total cost of building TMX at CAD 9.3 billion.

One Comment

  • To Stop climate change you stop the pipeline – they go hand in hand. Can’t have one result without the other.

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