The failure of the rule of law in Canada: the TMX pipeline, increasing oil production, and “imminent peril”

In 2016, at the time the construction of the TMX pipeline expansion was authorized, the Government of Canada projected that Canada’s total crude oil production would rise to 5.7 million bpd by 2040 (up from 4.0 million in 2015). Now, seven years later, the government’s most recent reports and published data are still projecting oil production growth to 5.7 million bpd by 2040. Canada’s ambition to continue expanding its oil production to 2040 remains essentially unchanged. What Canada does matters because we are the world’s 4th largest oil producer.

The two new pipeline projects authorized by the Trudeau Government on November 29, 2016 (the TMX Expansion and Line 3) will in combination provide 910,000 bpd of additional shipping capacity. An increase in shipping capacity by 910,000 bpd is highly significant. That amount is almost exactly equivalent to the entire projected expansion of Canada’s oil production between 2020 and 2030. Yet no environmental assessment or independent public inquiry process of any kind in Canada has ever answered the fundamental question, which is whether the planned growth of Canada’s oil production to 2030 and 2040 is compatible with keeping increased warming to 1.5°C or even 2°C. At present we are on a path to warming in the range of 2.6 °C.

This paper looks at the contradiction between Canada’s growing oil production and the very deep cuts in global oil production required by 2030 and by 2040 to give us any realistic chance of keeping global warming to within the 1.5°C threshold or within 2°C.

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