You’ve likely seen the claims made by the oil and gas industry that the Russian invasion of Ukraine is a clear indication that the world needs more Canadian oil and gas. It’s absurd. And capitalizing on this tragedy is disgusting.
A new pipeline couldn’t be built in time to have any impact on today’s conflict. And expanding fossil fuel infrastructure of any kind will only fuel the climate crisis – which the World Health Organization has called “the single biggest health threat facing humanity.”
Ukraine’s delegate to the United Nations, Svitlana Krakovska, put it best: “Human-induced climate change and the war on Ukraine have the same roots — fossil fuels — and our dependence on them.”
Russia’s invasion is only possible because of fossil fuels. Forty per cent of Russia’s budget comes from oil and gas. Russia brings in some $500 million a day from oil and gas. And European dependence on Russian oil and gas surely emboldened Russian President Putin, making him believe that the EU wouldn’t really rush to Ukraine’s aid. Thankfully he was wrong.
The invasion of Ukraine must be a call to accelerate the phase out of fossil fuels. They are a source of instability in the world, a volatile commodity, and too often linked to war and conflict. And fossil fuels are, of course, the main cause of climate change.
There is simply no justification for producing more Canadian oil and gas, even if it were “ethical”, which it is not.
Consider that oil and gas’ grip on Alberta has actually prompted Alberta Premier Jason Kenney to adopt the playbook of autocratic petro-states around the world. His government is pedaling lies about climate change activists, including us, in an attempt to discredit climate change action. The oil and gas industry is leaving behind tens of billions of dollars in liabilities including over a trillion liters of toxic tailings, which they now want to flush into the Athabasca river and endanger Indigenous communities that live downstream. And despite the claims made to the contrary, Canadian oil is some of the most carbon intensive in the world! It’s time to admit that Alberta’s oil is “unethical.”
Also: to be very clear, Canada has imported basically no oil from Russia for the past 10 years or more. The argument made from industry for Canada to ban fossil fuel imports from Russia, with carefully curated numbers to make imports look significantly larger than they actually are, was just another tool of oil and gas proponents to get their supporters angry.
So what should we do? Again, let’s take our cues from Ukraine’s Krakovska who said “We will not surrender in Ukraine, and we hope the world will not surrender in building a climate resilient future.”
We stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine, and we remain committed to fighting climate change as well.