Justin Trudeau‚Äôs support for more pipelines and oilsands drilling is at loggerheads with his image as Canada‚Äôs progressive heartthrob prime minister, according to a top environmentalist.
In an op-ed published Monday in The Guardian, 350.org founder Bill McKibben called Trudeau a ‚Äústunning hypocrite‚ÄĚ on global warming.
‚Äú[W]hen it comes to the defining issue of our day, climate change, he‚Äôs a brother to the old orange guy in DC,‚ÄĚ McKibben wrote, referring to U.S. President Donald Trump. He said Trudeau was ‚Äúhard at work pushing for new pipelines through Canada and the US to carry yet more oil out of Alberta‚Äôs tarsands, which is one of the greatest climate disasters on the planet.‚ÄĚ
Oilsands ‚Äē a mix of sand, clay and bitumen, a viscous oil ‚Äē are considered by many to be a "dirty" fossil fuel. The controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which Trump jump-started days after taking office in January, would funnel a daily load of 830,000 barrels of oilsands fuel to refineries in Texas, producing emissions equal to putting 5.6 million new cars on the road, according to estimates by the environmental non-profit Friends of the Earth.
Justin Trudeau speaks to the media during a visit to the Manhattan borough of New York on April 6. (Photo: Lucas Jackson/Reuters)
A spokesperson for Trudeau did not reply to a request for comment.
In 2015, former president Barack Obama rejected pipeline-builder TransCanada‚Äôs application to construct the Keystone XL after a seven-year deliberation. Trudeau cheered Trump‚Äôs decision to reconsider the pipeline.
‚ÄúI reiterated my support for the project. I‚Äôve been on the record for many years supporting [Keystone XL] because it leads to economic growth and good jobs for Albertans,‚ÄĚ Trudeau told reporters on Jan. 24, when Trump signed an executive action inviting TransCanada to reapply.
‚ÄúWe know we can get our resources to market more safely and responsibly while meeting our climate change goals.‚ÄĚ
To be sure, the Trudeau administration has made significant moves to reduce carbon emissions from fossil fuels. In November, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna announced plans to phase out most coal-fired power plants by 2030. Some coal power stations would remain, equipped with carbon-capture technology that has yet to be proved reliable. Nevertheless, the Canadian government forecasts carbon emissions falling by 5 megatons ‚Äē equivalent to taking 1.3 million cars off the road ‚Äē if the plan is fully implemented.
"[W]hen it comes to the defining issue of our day, climate change, he‚Äôs a brother to the old orange guy in DC."
In December, Trudeau announced a nationwide minimum price on carbon of about $10 per metric ton. By next year, the Liberal government plans to roll out either a tax on fossil fuels or a cap-and-trade system to exact the levy.
Still, McKibben urged Trudeau‚Äôs gushing fans to ‚Äústop swooning‚ÄĚ over the prime minister, whom he called a ‚Äúdisaster for the planet.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúTrump is a creep and a danger and unpleasant to look at, but at least he‚Äôs not a stunning hypocrite,‚ÄĚ McKibben wrote, before concluding: ‚ÄúTrump‚Äôs insulting the planet, in other words. But at least he‚Äôs not pretending otherwise.‚ÄĚ