Canadian organizations, such as Development and Peace, are concerned by U.S. President Donald Trump's stance on the environment and is ready to resist any 'Trump effect." Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore via Flickr [https://flic.kr/p/r6wTD8]

Canadian organizations ready to resist the ‘Trump effect’ on climate justice

By 
  • February 8, 2017

OTTAWA – Canadian organizations concerned about climate justice are preparing to resist any “Trump effect” on the environment.

Genevieve Talbot, advocacy officer for Development and Peace, said she is “absolutely” worried about the potential impact of  Donald Trump’s presidency.

“The fact that the U.S. president is behind the oil industry makes it harder for the environmental groups and social justice groups to fight for climate justice,” she said.

The new U.S. President has appointed former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State. He has also appointed Scott Pruitt, a known climate skeptic, to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and said he is “not a big fan” of the Paris Climate Accord.

Talbot and others have also been alarmed by environment-related tweets from Trump and by his approval of the Keystone XL pipeline to bring Canadian bitumen from Alberta to refineries in the United States.

“The concerns with the new administration are that the United States will take a step back from the responsibility to support the Paris Accord that the previous administration seemed willing to do,” said Joe Gunn, executive director of Citizens for Public Justice.

One positive Trump effect, however, is that it is now “easier to mobilize people than it was before,” said Talbot.

Gunn and Talbot expressed concerns about pipelines in Canada. In November, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approved the Kinder Morgan and the Enbridge Line 3 pipelines.

“There’s no question in our minds the Prime Minister can’t have it both ways,” said Gunn. “We can’t say Canada will meet its climate targets and expand these pipelines and increase these fossil fuel exports to the United States at the same time.”

Unlike Talbot and Gunn, Mark Cameron, executive director of Canadians for Clean Prosperity, does not “have a problem with building pipelines to the West Coast and to the United States, as long as we are properly pricing carbon and reducing our emissions.”

“I think it’s too early to tell what Trump is going to do,” Cameron said.

Indigenous peoples in Western Canada are “really taking a stand for climate justice,” Talbot said. The approval of the pipelines goes against Truth and Reconciliation Promises as well as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, she said.

“The companies and the government have to understand they don’t have the buy-in from the communities,” she said.

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