Stand.earth reacts to Bay du Nord federal approval

Wednesday April 06, 2022

Giant oil drilling project further entrenches Canada’s dependence on fossil fuels while accelerating the climate crisis

Unceded Coast Salish Territories (VANCOUVER, BC) — Just days after the world’s most authoritative scientific body called for immediate wind down of fossil fuel production and no new fossil fuel infrastructure projects to prevent irreversible and catastrophic climate impacts, Canada’s federal government approved yet another fossil fuel infrastructure project today. 

Norwegian company, Equinor, is behind this giant oil drilling project called Bay du Nord off the coast of the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The project is estimated to produce up to 73m barrels a year, which is equivalent to adding more than 7m gas-powered cars to the road. Bay du Nord would involve building the deepest production wells drilled in Canada; according to estimates by Equinor, a wellhead blowout at this location would take 18 to 36 days to cap. The federal government is claiming that Bay du Nord has a binding condition to be net zero, but environmentalists are critical of hinging on false solutions that are dangerous distractions and delay tactics that waste time and money that drive us deeper into the climate crisis. 

“This decision is embarrassing for Canada,” said Tzeporah Berman, International Programs Director, Stand.earth. “It makes a mockery of Canada’s climate commitments and locks in more emissions that threaten lives and livelihoods. Extreme weather, the floods and fires are already taking lives and costing us billions. At this moment in history every ton of carbon matters and we need to be bending the curve of production and emissions down not up.” 

Earlier this week, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its latest report focused on climate mitigation, painting a stark picture of what the fossil fuel era has wrought. 

“Investing in new fossil fuels infrastructure is moral and economic madness,”  warned UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in his statement Monday.

Emissions from oil and gas production are Canada's largest and fastest growing source of emissions, and the primary reason it cannot meet its Paris commitments. In their latest policy review of Canada’s energy system released in January, the International Energy Agency (IEA) correctly identifies fossil fuel production as a barrier to achieving the country’s climate targets. To meet the Paris Agreement, Canada must stop approving and subsidizing fossil fuel projects.

“The IPCC made it clear that if Canada continues along this path of building more fossil fuel infrastructure, a 1.5°C target will be impossible to reach,” said Berman. “The IEA made it clear that no further reserves of oil can be developed if we are to meet global emissions targets. So why is it that the government keeps trying to circumvent the science?”  

Despite the fossil fuel industry’s attempt to frame this as a project in Newfoundland and Labrador’s economic interest, it is not the case. Polling has shown that the majority of people in the province want a green economy. In St John’s, a city with a population of only about 100,000, thousands have joined demonstrations calling for climate action and protests extended well beyond the capital of the province.

Tomorrow, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland will deliver Canada's 2022 federal budget, where climate measures are expected to be a principal theme. Stand.earth is calling on the federal government to end the approval of all fossil fuel expansion projects and to stop pretending that the climate emergency isn’t already happening, instead of further entrenching Canada’s economic dependence on fossil fuels.

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Media contact: 

Ziona Eyob, Media Director - Canada, canadamedia@stand.earth, +1 604 757 7279 (Pacific Time)