Tzeporah Berman on Al Jazeera English: ‘Canada’s climate politics are being held hostage by the oil and gas industry’

Tzeporah Berman on Al Jazeera English: ‘Canada’s climate politics are being held hostage by the oil and gas industry’

Wednesday June 19, 2019's international program director speaks out after Canadian federal government reapproves Trans Mountain Pipeline

After the Canadian federal government announced its approval of the Trans Mountain Pipeline on June 18, International Program Director Tzeporah Berman spoke live with Al Jazeera English News Hour from New York, where Berman is attending the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) annual conference. 

Dareen Abughaida, Al Jazeera English: Let’s speak to Tzeporah Berman. She's joining us live from New York. She's the international program director at That's an environmental protection organization with offices both in the U.S. as well as in Canada. Thanks very much for speaking to us on the Al Jazeera News Hour. You're against this pipeline. What's your biggest concern?

Tzeporah Berman, This pipeline would facilitate the significant expansion of the tar sands in Canada. The emissions just from the production of that oil alone are the equivalent to putting about 2.2 million cars on the road. This is going to facilitate significant oil expansion. Oil and gas are the fastest growing and largest source of emissions in Canada. It means that Canada won't be able to meet our climate targets. 

DA: Here's the thing though. Trudeau is saying that he's actually committing to directing money earned from that pipeline to investments in clean energy projects. What do you make of that argument that he's putting forward?

TB: The market is moving away from high-cost, high-carbon oil, which is what we have in Canada. And demand is softening. Many countries around the world are banning the fossil fuel car, and that's why investors pulled out of this pipeline in the first place. So our federal government bought it, is using $7 billion of taxpayer money to buy this pipeline and build the expansion. They could be using that $7 billion directly to fund clean energy without increasing pollution. If a wealthy country like Canada with a stable democracy can't do our part to address climate safety — when we're all experiencing the rise in floods and fires — then who can? We need Canada to step up to the plate and address climate change. Expanding oil production and building new pipelines is not the way to move away from fossil fuels. 

DA: How do campaigners like yourself then take this fight forward? Because environmental campaigners, organizations, and groups are all saying that this project will not go ahead without a fight.

TB: There have been many approvals of pipelines — Keystone XL, Northern Gateway in Canada — none of them have gone forward because what we're seeing is growing opposition. It's not just environmentalists and Indigenous nations who are opposed to this project. It's 19 municipalities, the city of Vancouver, the city of Burnaby, the province of British Columbia. So there will be more legal challenges. There are already protests. There were hundreds of people in the streets in Vancouver tonight. It remains to be seen, but I think this project will continue to be challenged. We will continue to try and delay it, and hope that our government will see that we need to invest directly in clean energy at this moment in history and not build more fossil fuels. I think the fact is, Canada, like many other countries, our climate politics are being held hostage by the oil and gas industry — a very powerful lobby that is pushing to expand at a moment when we know we need to move away from fossil fuels.

DA: Tzeporah Berman, thank you for speaking to us from New York.