The Government of Canada has given the green light to the controversial Bay du Nord project, which plans to extract 300 million to 1 billion barrels of oil off the coast of Newfoundland.
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The decision was announced late Wednesday. Pressed with questions when he left the Standing Committee on Natural Resources, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Steven Guilbeault, assured that he assumed this decision 100%.
“My personal opinions I shared them with the members of the cabinet. What is important today is to see that we accept the recommendations of the Federal Environmental Assessment Agency, which studied the project for four years and made the recommendation to us that the project had no significant impact on the environment,” he said, adding that it was one of the lowest-emitting oil projects in the world.
This decision comes two days after the release of a damning new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The document urges governments to drastically reduce their oil production, mentioning that humanity has only three years to cap its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and limit global warming to 2°C.
“Investing in new fossil fuel infrastructure is moral and economic folly,” UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in his opening speech.
Bay du Nord is a $6.8 billion project which provides for the construction of a new drilling platform 500 km east of Newfoundland by the Norwegian company Equinor. The goal is to extract 300 million to 1 billion barrels of oil there over 30 years, starting in 2028.
At nearly 200,000 barrels mined per day, the project would add the equivalent in CO emissions2 7 to 10 million cars on our roads per year (including combustion), denounce the environmental groups who strongly opposed the project.
“It’s heartbreaking […] What this decision demonstrates is the extent to which governments, even those among which we have climate champions, have a totally inadequate response to the scale of the crisis,” lamented the director of national policies of the Action Network. Climate, Caroline Brouillette.
The Équiterre organization also castigated the decision.
“Members of the government keep telling us that they don’t have the power to limit the production of fossil fuels. They had a great opportunity here to do it and we consciously decided to do the opposite,” said climate policy analyst Émile Boisseau-Bouvier.
Same story on the side of Greenpeace.
“It’s hitting rock bottom for a government that says it wants to fight climate change when in fact we have Steven Guilbeault who is legitimizing climate inaction. It’s a total denial of what science demands,” said spokesman Patrick Bonin.
A key economic asset
The Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, Andrew Furey, defended the economic advantage that the project represents for his province, the most indebted in the country.
“The Bay du Nord project is critically important to the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador and would provide meaningful jobs and economic activity,” he said in a news release last month.
Proponents say their oil will be “the lowest carbon emitter in Canada,” thanks to a combination of technology and ways of doing things.
A GHG reduction plan for 2030
Earlier last week, Steven Guilbeault unveiled his 2030 GHG Emissions Reduction Plan. is committed to it within the framework of the Paris Agreement.
However, the efforts to be made by the oil and gas industry, the sector that emits the most in the country, are not explained there, since discussions have yet to take place with a view to imposing a cap.