Oil drilling project will exacerbate climate change damage to northern lifestyles, Inuit activist says

For Inuk activist Amy Norman, the impact of an oil drilling project like the Bay du Nord project off Newfoundland is not theoretical.

“We are the people of ice and snow. This is what we are and this is what we have been since time immemorial. Destroying the ice destroys us,” Norman said.

“Investing in oil and gas is violence against these lands and waters and it perpetuates the cycles of destruction and colonialism. Climate destruction is already having a disproportionate impact on the north.

Norman joined five others in a group presentation on March 22, World Water Day, to speak out against the Bay du Nord deepwater oil project which will be located in the pass basin. Flanders in the North Atlantic Ocean.

Bay du Nord is developed by Equinor in partnership with Cenovus Energy. The oil discovery is located at a water depth of approximately 1,170 meters. It is estimated that it will produce 300 million barrels of oil and provide 11,0000 person-years of employment. Equinor plans to develop the Bay du Nord field using a floating production unit for offshore storage and loading, according to Equinor’s website.

“Bay du Nord is a unique opportunity to generate significant value and increase the capacity and global competitiveness of Newfoundland and Labrador’s oil and gas supply chain,” reads the website. the company.

The federal government postponed its decision on the project until mid-April. Ottawa was originally expected to make a decision last December.

Now that the NDP has teamed up with the Liberals to support the Trudeau government until 2025, Dr. Angela Carter, associate professor in the department of political science at the University of Waterloo, said the NDP’s tough stance on the green environment and action against climate change could have a positive impact.

“I’m not going to speculate on whether that makes this project more or less likely. We know the NDP obviously had a very strong platform to prioritize the climate crisis…(and) these projects are preventing the federal government from meeting its emissions reduction commitments. These are commitments that we have made internationally… So hopefully with an NDP alliance, if you will, it will reinforce their commitment to do this,” Carter said.

Leadership in Canada needs to step up, said Gretchen Fitzgerald, director of national programs for the Sierra Club Canada Foundation.

On March 2, a letter signed by 126 environmental groups and citizens and academics from Newfoundland and other parts of Canada was sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Deputy Premier Chrystia Freeland and Ministers Steven Guilbeault (Environment and Climate Change), Joyce Murray (Fisheries and Oceans) and Jonathan Wilkinson (Natural Resources).

The signatories implored the government not to approve the project because it is “inconsistent with Canada’s domestic and global climate commitments, contradicts Canada’s commitment to limit emissions from the oil and gas sector, is based on a seriously flawed Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), and fails to provide Newfoundland and Labrador with the support needed to transition workers to a prosperous and clean economy.

Among the signatories were the Norman organization Grand RiverKeeper Labrador, the Grand Council of Wolastog, Sacred Earth Solar, Keepers of the Water Society and Indigenous Climate Action.

Fitzgerald said the environmental assessment carried out on Bay du Nord was “fatally flawed”, and since the initial assessment, the number of potential productions has changed.

Equinor made its initial discovery in 2013, followed by discoveries in 2015, 2016 and most recently in 2020.

“This project deserves thorough and proper consideration. It was not scrutinized during the review process,” she said.

With the conflict in Europe, said Tzeporah Berman, international program director of Stand.earth and chair of the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, oil producers and oil-producing provinces began to talk about filling the void left behind. by Russian oil boycotts. .

“No sooner had the missiles fallen in Ukraine than the oil industry in Canada was using this war to make the case for Bay du Nord. It’s an absurd and dangerous argument,” said Berman, who also pointed out that the project would not be built in time to help Europe replace Russian oil and gas.

The Equinor website indicates that the first Bay du Nord oil is expected to be produced in the late 2020s.

Carter said all Bay du Nord production was going “full speed in the wrong direction”.

“It is now clear to international climate science that there is no more room in our emissions budget for new oil projects… The North Bay project adds fuel to the climate fire . Bay du Nord is part of the climate problem,” Carter said.

“The world is changing and climate change is already here. Environmental destruction is not a distant future. This is our current reality and we are already seeing the impacts here in Labrador and Newfoundland,” said Norman.

“Unreliable sea ice, warming temperatures, more frequent storms, unpredictable weather. This is already impacting our lifestyles. This is already changing the way we live on these lands.


By Shari Narine, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com

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