The government of Canada, the world’s fourth largest oil producer, has approved construction of a major controversial oil project in the Atlantic Ocean, Environment Secretary Steven Guilbeault announced on Wednesday, April 6.
Named Bay du Nord and backed by the Norwegian giant Equinor for many years, it will be possible to exploit a 1,000-foot-deep deposit 500 miles off the Newfoundland coast. Commencement is planned for 2028. It will be the fifth oil platform of its kind in Canada and, according to the company, will be able to extract about 300 million barrels of oil over 30 years.
“The Bay du Nord development project can proceed, subject to some of the strictest environmental conditions ever imposed, including the historic requirement for an oil and gas project to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050”stated the minister and ex-climate activist in a press release.
According to a comprehensive environmental assessment, the project is unlikely to have significant adverse environmental impacts, he added. “The world still needs oil”then told Radio Canada whoever was chosen by Justin Trudeau to the portfolio of environment minister in October 2021, because of his past as an activist.
The announcement immediately sparked an outcry from environmental groups. “Approving Bay du Nord is another step towards an unlivable future”said Julia Levin of Milieudefensie, and a “slap in the face to 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 “exacerbating the climate crisis and global dependence on fossil fuels burning the planet”†
These organizations recall that United Nations (UN) Secretary General Antonio Guterres described as: “insanity” the continued 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), the use of carbon-less coal (an immature technology at scale) must be completely phased out to respect a temperature rise of up to +1.5°C, and that of oil. and gas decreased by 60% and 70% respectively in 2050 compared to 2019 levels.
“Dunce” in the face of climate change
Several political parties have also denounced this decision by the Canadian government, most notably the New Democratic Party (NDP, left), which is allied to Justin Trudeau’s liberals in the Ottawa parliament. “It shows exactly what is wrong with this government. They listen to their buddies in the oil and gas sector rather than to climate scientists”denounced Laurel Collins, NDP environmental critic.
The Bloc Québécois, the country’s third-largest parliamentary party, believes that Canada “confirms its stupid position in the fight against climate change” and that this decision “sounds the death knell of credibility” from the Minister of the Environment.
The dilemma with this project was such that the decision has been delayed twice in recent months, mainly because Justin Trudeau has often been criticized in recent years for his decisions regarding the oil sector, most notably for nationalizing an oil pipeline in 2018. He had made strong climate commitments during the last election campaign and confirmed the need in October 2021 “make sure the oil and gas industry stops increasing emissions and starts reducing them”†