First, Keystone XL does NOT "bypass the United States," as the President claimed it did in the earlier statement. A consultants report from IHS Energy found in February that "Canadian crude making its way to the USGC (the US Gulf Coast) will likely be refined there, and most of the refined products are likely to be consumed in the United States."
Alberta has the best solar and wind potential in all of Canada more than enough to power the entire province yet utilizes less than 1per cent of it. Alberta also has a highly skilled, trained workforce. Alberta has the welders, it has the electricians, it has the engineers, the machinists, it has all the people power it needs to make the solar powered leap.
The Alberta government is so fixated on extracting the destructive tar sands that it's missing out on Alberta's real potential. Rather that causing rising greenhouse gas emissions, countless treaty rights violations, incredible disturbances to land, air and water, the government could be a leader in clean energy solutions.
Fossil fuels, the writing is on the wall. Some countries are already powered by 100 per cent renewables, others are on their way. Our cars and transport are starting to be electrified and solar panels, wind turbines, and geothermal are going up in communities around the world (Bangladesh is installing nearly two new rooftop PV systems every minute).
"First Nation communities, especially ones that are isolated and reliant on diesel for power, stand to benefit the most from a transition. These panels are an example of the type of solutions our communities should be implementing -- ones that create jobs, lower energy costs and don't hurt the environment to do it."
Frankly I think it's at least partially our fault as an environmental movement that this framing has stuck. We haven't focused enough on specific solutions over the years. We have opposed bad ideas like pipelines with vague notions of carbon taxes or non-specific alternative energy projects. We have rarely proposed or even broadly supported specific alternative projects.
Harper and Abbott have to understand that we can no longer have economies that exist outside of the ecological limits of our planet. Our reliance and exploitation of fossil fuels is endangering our future as well as our present and it needs to end. We need to transition to green energy and we need to keep more fossil fuels, especially high-carbon fuels like the tar sands, in the ground.
It makes you wonder how many other voices that complain about tar sands impacts are being ignored? Fort Chipewyan's calls for independent health inquiry, the cancer concerns in Fort Saskatchewan are just two, both recently echoed by the Edmonton Journal's editorial board; the fact that some doctors may not comfortable treating oil-symptom patients is another.
It was a Victoria day like any other until I found out the Canadian government has been vigorously spying on several Canadian organizations that work for environmental protections and democratic rights. My colleagues and I had been wary of being spied on for a long time, but having it confirmed still took the wind out of me.
There are moments in history when it becomes clear that our leaders are failing us. They are the moments when people from all walks of life need to dust off those placards, stand up and speak out. This is one of those moments. Canada is failing as a country to curb climate pollution. Under the Harper Conservatives, our country's climate performance has become the worst in the Western world. We cannot sit by and let them put our coast and our country at risk. On November 16, communities from across Canada will stand up to remind our elected officials that they work for us and not just the oil patch.