The government of Canada, the fourth largest oil producer in the world, has given its approval to the construction of a major and controversial oil project in the Atlantic Ocean, Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault announced on Wednesday, April 6.
Called Bay du Nord and supported for years by the Norwegian giant Equinor, it will allow the exploitation of a deposit located more than a thousand meters deep and located 500 kilometers from the coast of Newfoundland. Commissioning is scheduled for 2028. It will be the fifth such oil platform in Canada and will allow the extraction of approximately 300 million barrels of oil over thirty years, according to the company.
“The Bay du Nord development project can proceed, subject to some of the strictest environmental conditions ever imposed, including the historic requirement that an oil and gas project achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.”the minister and former climate activist said in a press release.
Based on a comprehensive environmental assessment, the project is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects, it added. “The world still needs oil”He then told Radio Canada that he had been chosen for the portfolio of Minister of the Environment, in October 2021, by Justin Trudeau, for his past as an activist.
The announcement immediately sparked an outcry from environmental groups. “Approving Bay du Nord is one more step towards an uninhabitable future”said Julia Levin of Environmental Defense, and a “slap in the face for 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 “which exacerbate the climate crisis and global dependence on fossil fuels that burn the planet”.
These organizations recall that the Secretary General of the United Nations Organization (UN) Antonio Guterres described as “Craziness” persistent dependence on fossil fuels, “addiction that leads us to collective destruction”.
According to the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), to respect a temperature increase limited to +1.5°C, the use of coal without carbon capture should be completely stopped (an immature technology at scale) and those of oil and gas were reduced by 60% and 70% respectively by 2050 compared to 2019 levels.
“Bobo” in the face of climate change
Several political parties have also denounced this decision by the Canadian government, in particular the New Democratic Party (NDP, left), allied in the Ottawa Parliament to Justin Trudeau’s liberals. “It shows exactly what is wrong with this government. They listen to their friends in the oil and gas industry instead of listening to climate scientists.”denounced Laurel Collins, environmental critic of the NDP.
As for the Bloc Québécois, the third largest parliamentary party in the country, it believes that Canada “confirms its foolish position in the fight against climate change” and that this decision “sounds the death knell of credibility” of the Minister of the Environment.
The dilemma was such about this project that the decision has been postponed twice in recent months, especially since Justin Trudeau has often been criticized in recent years for his decisions related to the oil sector, in particular for having nationalized an oil pipeline in 2018. He had made strong climate commitments during the last election campaign and stated in October 2021 that it was necessary “Make sure the oil and gas industry stops increasing emissions and starts reducing them”.