As a climate policy analyst and a dedicated environmentalist, my spirits have been lifted by recent government announcements against various fossil fuel projects. Like everyone else, I sometimes get discouraged – these battles are often long and frustrating. But all the work that I’m doing, that you’re doing, that our allies in Quebec, Canada and the rest of the world are doing - it’s all so worth it, because it’s working. The fight against fossil fuels is far from won, but we’re beginning to see more and more projects being abandoned due to a lack of social acceptance.
Recent wins: Vista and Keystone
In July last year, over 10,000 Équiterre supporters signed a petition against expanding the Vista coal mine, one of the largest thermal coal mines in Canada, joining their voices to tens of thousands of others across Canada. This mobilization contributed to the big announcement just a few weeks ago that the federal government has blocked the Vista expansion as well as any new thermal coal mining projects.
And earlier this year, we celebrated the victory of the massive protest against the Keystone pipeline expansion project, when US President Joe Biden revoked the permit in the first few months of his presidency. Last month, TC Energy announced it was dropping the project once and for all!
Public mobilization against fossil fuels is strong, and essential, because there are a lot more battles that need to be won!
What I find really inspiring is how communities across the continent continue to mobilize fervently for a better future. I’m encouraged by the continued public opposition to GNL Québec in the Saguenay and more recently to Goldboro LNG, whose gas pipeline would pass through Estrie. The widespread citizen awareness and the resulting growing lack of social acceptance for these projects are having major impacts: many financial investors no longer consider them to be profitable investments, and governments are finding it increasingly difficult to approve them. At the end of the day, governments must listen to their citizens!
The movement against fossil fuels is maturing
Every fight against every project is essential, with all the energy that it takes of activists, stakeholders and citizens. But the sad reality is that with every project that’s abandoned, another one springs up somewhere else. From coast to coast, a sprawling network of gas pipelines continues to extend its tentacles throughout North America. Instead of having to play whack-a-mole, the time has come to attack the systemic problems plaguing our societies and economies - problems that allow for these types of projects to keep popping up, even though we’re in the midst of a climate crisis.
The battle won’t be entirely won until our governments say no to expanding or building new oil and gas pipelines, and to exporting thermal coal. We must demand better of our elected representatives.
At Équiterre we’re working hard, alongside our allies around the globe, to get our countries to adopt public policies to ban fossil fuel projects. We recently hosted a webinar on the global strategies to deploy to get there. If you missed it, you can watch the rebroadcast.
It’s time for governments at every level to step off the gas and it’s our collective responsibility to put the brakes on the fossil fuel industry.
Thank you for being involved. Thank you for your dedication to the planet. Our efforts are paying off - we’re making progress!
Let’s keep working together to change the system!
Analyst, Climate Policy and Ecological Transition