The minister responsible for Canada's role in fighting climate change is defending his government's purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline after a landmark UN report said the continued use of fossil fuels is pushing the climate toward catastrophe.
Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson said today that revenue generated by the project will help Canada achieve its long-term climate objectives.
Wilkinson reaffirmed Canada's commitment to phasing out fossil fuels and achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050, but said achieving that target will require money generated by fossil fuels.
"Canada needs to ensure that in the context of that transition, it's extracting full value for its resources and using that money to push forward in terms of reducing emissions," Wilkinson said on CBC's Power & Politics.
"What we're doing is saying it's got to be part of the transition, but part of the transition is being able to raise the revenues that enable you to actually make the investments that are required to go there."
Wilkinson's comments came on the same day that the UN climate panel published a report that forecasts catastrophic environmental consequences if humans continue burning coal and other fossil fuels.
The Canadian government purchased the embattled Trans Mountain pipeline from energy giant Kinder Morgan in 2018 for $4.5 billion.
A planned expansion of the pipeline will increase the amount of crude it carries from Alberta to British Columbia's coast from 300,000 to 890,000 barrels per day.
The project, and Ottawa's decision to purchase the pipeline, have been dogged by environmental concerns, objections from First Nations and economic forecasts that predict weak long-term demand for oil.
The NDP and Greens have repeatedly criticized the government for its decision to buy the pipeline. They repeated those criticisms today in statements responding to the UN report.
"While they talk a lot about climate leadership, these are not the actions of a government who is interested in fighting the climate crisis like they actually want to win," said Laurel Collins, the NDP's critic for climate change and the environment.
"The federal government is falling further and further behind our international partners in its climate action ambition and in doing its fair share," said Green Party Leader Annamie Paul.
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