Greenpeace tarsands

The night of Alberta's historic announcement of a 100 MT cap on tar sands emissions, I breathed a sigh of relief - the days of the endless expansion of the tar sands were over. The tar sands finally had their limit.

The next morning, I got up and went to work to ensure not another piece of tar sands infrastructure is built. The tar sands must never come close to reaching the cap, instead they need to head in the other direction. That is what the science and justice demands.

Rachel Notley took a brave stand against an endlessly expanding dirty industry when she made her announcement and she started Alberta down the path toward a renewable energy economy. The image of industry and environmental leaders who stood side by side with her on that stage sent a powerful message that the climate had finally become a priority for Albertans and Canadians. More needs to be done but the first significant steps had been taken.

Now questions are being raised about the process that led to this announcement. There have been allegations of a "secret deal" between some environmental groups and oil companies, with some claiming that if the companies agreed to the cap, the environmental groups promised to “ease off on their tar sands campaigns.”

As someone who has lived and breathed this campaign for the past 9 years, and who answers to thousands of supporters and allies across the country and around the world, I can assure you that Greenpeace was never involved in any "deals.” Greenpeace holds its independence dearly. Moreover, First Nations and communities from coast to coast have made it clear, as witnessed in last week’s historic march in Ottawa with over 25,000 people in the streets, that much more work is needed to get us off of fossil fuels. That work begins with keeping the tar sands in the ground.

Greenpeace thinks it is critical for the Alberta government to ensure that First Nation communities who will be directly impacted by climate policies be properly consulted and be integral contributors when plans like this are developed. Not only are First Nation communities on the front lines of environmental devastation but they are also on the front lines of our changing climate and already feeling the impacts.

Greenpeace will continue to actively oppose carbon-enabling pipelines because of the dangers they bring with them and because they lock-us into high carbon infrastructure for decades. We will also continue to actively oppose the tar sands at the source while raising up solutions for how Alberta can speed and benefit from its renewable transition. We must not let up but instead need to double down so Alberta and Canada can get to where they need to be.

The government of Alberta’s announcement was a huge step forward but it's still a historic leap from where it needs to be. Our job is not only to help them implement it but to increase their ambition and finish the story we helped write. That story ends with a 100% renewable transition. It’s a story that is being written all over the world. We need to help write it in Alberta and Canada and that’s exactly what we are going to continue to do.

Greenpeace tarsands