I’ve rarely seen a campaign win like this before.
In a surprising move, Teck, the company behind a proposal to build a massive new mine in Alberta to extract tar sands oil withdrew its application last night. The withdrawal of the application to build the controversial Frontier mine came mere days before the federal Cabinet was scheduled to decide on whether or not to grant a permit.
This would not have been possible without the leadership of Indigenous communities and the tens of thousands of Greenpeace supporters across the country, who took action.
Three months ago, very few people had heard of Teck’s Frontier mine. Its approval was considered a no-brainer because no tar sands project has ever been rejected. But, by working with a movement led by Indigenous Climate Action, we were able to push it to the top of the public and media agenda. Ultimately, we were able to turn it into a litmus test of Justin Trudeau’s government’s commitment to acting on the climate crisis.
By Teck’s own admission, things are changing
The company explained its withdrawal citing public pressure and changing financial markets that are increasingly locking in a demand for serious climate policy.
Here’s a short excerpt from the letter Teck’s CEO sent to Jonathan Wilkinson, Canada’s Minister for Environment and Climate Change. Can you believe this was written by a fossil fuel executive?
“global capital markets are changing rapidly and investors and customers are increasingly looking for jurisdictions to have a framework in place that reconciles resource development and climate change, in order to produce the cleanest possible products.”
Fossil fuel companies are losing their social license as the truth about their impact on the climate crisis set in. Here is the evidence that we’re witnessing an extraordinary moment of change, if you were ever looking for it.
People power made this possible
Teck’s decision to pull the plug on the project reflects the global work that Indigenous leaders, Greenpeace supporters and activists everywhere have been doing to make investors and politicians understand the risks of deepening fossil fuel investments — from pipelines to mega-mines to coal and deep sea drilling.
Every petition signature, every protest, every dollar, every phone call matters. When I met with a Liberal staffer for Deputy Prime Minister Freeland last Friday, they said that Greenpeace had been “very effective” in getting our message across. That was our supporters and allies in action, like student activist Ashley Torres who joined us in taking action outside Parliament in Ottawa to send a message to Cabinet last week.
- More than 55,000 Greenpeace supporters emailed Justin Trudeau’s cabinet to reject Teck.
- More than 100,000 petition signatures were collected by Greenpeace and other groups across Canada.
- Many of you participated in our Twitterstorm that trended across Canada. send a message to Cabinet in Ottawa last week.
- In collaboration with LeadNow and Équiterre, several hundred people visited their Ministers and Members of Parliament in their constituency to voice their opposition to the project.
- Around 100 people, in collaboration with climate strikers and Extinction Rebellion, occupied the Montreal office of Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault to ask him to reject Teck.
- And so much more.
And get this: Today (barely two full days after Teck’s decision), Norwegian oil giant Equinor has announced that it will abandon plans to drill in the incredible Great Australian Bight because it is “not commercially competitive”.
These wins are a testament to the years of relentless research, campaigning, political pressure, investor relations and public education this movement has been doing. This is people power in action! So, what’s next?
First, let’s take a beat to enjoy this victory and appreciate the hard work it took to get here.
In the long-term, we look to government/companies to implement the Green New Deal and urgently create jobs for Indigenous, rural and urban workers by scaling up wind and solar power, green building, mass transit and ecosystem restoration, and more.
In the short-term, we need to turn our eyes to Wet’suwet’en. In their letter to the federal government, Teck wrote that the proposed mine: “has surfaced a broader debate over climate change and Canada’s role in addressing it. […] Questions about the societal implications of energy development, climate change and Indigenous rights are critically important ones for Canada, its provinces and Indigenous governments to work through.”
This has been plain in the struggle of the Wet’suwet’en Nation to protect their lands from the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline, which does not have consent from the hereditary leaders who are the title holders of the land.
Yesterday, the Ontario Provincial Police moved in and arrested Mohawk Land Defenders at the Tyendinaga rail blockade. The blockade started nearly three weeks ago in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs who are defending their territory in British Columbia against the Coastal Gaslink pipeline.
If this victory against Teck has shown me anything, it’s that people taking action together can make a difference. Please call Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office now to express solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en people defending their lands against this destructive pipeline.
People power stopped the largest tar sands mine ever proposed. And I’d like to thank you for being part of it. Let’s keep it going.