THE BLOG
03/27/2014 05:42 EDT | Updated 05/27/2014 05:59 EDT

Why We Need to Talk Weather in Atlantic Canada

This Friday, after a "weather bomb" storm, people from all across Atlantic Canada and beyond will gather in Halifax for PowerShift Atlantic. The second regional PowerShift gathering that we've organized, PowerShift Atlantic couldn't be coming at a better time.

Here are 10 reasons why:

1. The Atlantic is the new frontier for tar sands export plans. Fierce resistance to pipelines has stalled and slowed projects meant to ship tar sands crude though the United States and the Pacific Coast, and now they've set their sights on the Atlantic. The Energy East tar sands pipeline is the the largest tar sands pipeline proposed yet. With the potential to carry over 1 million barrels-per-day of tar sands crude, plans are already in the works to load tankers to export tar sands through the Atlantic to Europe, the United States and Asia.

2. Estimated to produce between 30 and 32 million tonnes of annual emissions this pipeline, if built, would undo climate action in Atlantic Canada. Producing 10 million tonnes of emissions more than the Keystone XL, it would add the emissions equivalent of more than an additional seven million cars on Canada's roads effectively undoing any past climate leadership of Atlantic provinces.

3. The federal government has excluded climate change from the consideration process for pipeline approvals -- despite the fact that Atlantic Canada is one of the most vulnerable regions in the country when it comes to climate change. A 2011 report estimated that flood and storm surge damage will cost Canada between $1-8 billion per year with "higher-than-average impacts in Atlantic Canada." Between extreme weather, rising seas, temperature change and storm surges, Atlantic Canada is in for a rough ride without drastic action to curb dirty energy use.

4. But, that's not the only threat the posed by the Energy East pipeline. This project endangers land, water communities and coastlines all along it's route. Stretching from Alberta to New Brunswick this pipeline crosses thousands of rivers and lakes and is proposed to end with an export terminal in St. John and considerations of shipping tar sands through Cape Breton. A spill anywhere along this route could be devastating with a coastal spill posing a serious threat to species like the Right Whale and core industries like fishing.

5. Energy East would also cross the traditional territory of 180 different Indigenous communities many of whom have already pledged and committed to resist the project.

6. But tar sands pipelines are only one part of the fossil fuel frenzy happening across Atlantic Canada, fracking continues to be fiercely fought by communities. Sitting atop a number of major shale gas formations, companies have been pushing fracking operations along the St.Lawrence river all the way up to Newfoundland's Gros Morne National Park with the biggest conflict erupting last fall over fracking in the community of Elsipogtog. Many of these campaigns have won short term moratoriums and stopped exploration temporarily, but the fossil fuel industry continues to push fracking.

7. Atlantic Canada faces a choice between a clean energy revolution or hedging its bets on dangerous fossil fuels. Atlantic Canada has the highest youth unemployment rates in the country and many young people are forced to leave the region to find work, yet it also has some the greatest renewable energy potential in the world. From tidal power to offshore wind to small scale community energy projects, Atlantic Canada could be a world leader in a shift to renewable energy.

8. This shift would create thousands of long-term, secure jobs in facilitating a just transition to a clean energy economy. According to a study from Blue-Green Canada, renewable energy job creation beats oil and gas by a ratio of 15 to 2 (per million dollars invested). It's been estimated that simply shifting the $1.3 billion currently being used to subsidize the fossil fuel industry in Canada to renewables would create 18,000 more jobs.

9. More and more fossil fuels are being seen as a bad bet for people, the planet and the economy -- especially in Canada. Last week Exxon Mobil announced that it would take steps to assess the Carbon Risk it currently holds, the latest in a growing call to address the "carbon bubble" through divestment and restricting carbon budgets. With major plans for unconventional and extreme fossil fuel energy development, Canada has major exposure to the "carbon bubble." This gets even worse when you realize that the same extreme energy projects -- like tar sands and fracking -- exposed to the carbon bubble lie on or cross Indigenous lands.

10. Because it's time for a fierce and bold climate justice movement in Atlantic Canada.

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