Originally published on the ECOreport
Though she is still vague as to how things will come about, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna has been spreading hope around Paris. Her emphasis on the need to enshrine “the importance of respecting human rights, including the rights of First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples” in the Climate Change Agreement begs the question of what about Canada. Can Canada bring COP21 home?
What About Canada?
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip asked the same question yesterday, in a Vancouver Province Op-ed which said if the new government is serious about having “a new, more respectful relationship with First Nations, saying ‘no’ to Site C is a great way to begin …. Treaty 8 First Nations firmly maintain that the decision by the former federal cabinet to approve Site C violated their inherent and established treaty rights.” (They were given the use of the land that will be submerged.)
Similar things could be said of many of Premier Clark’s LNG projects. For example, Lax Kw’alaams, the Gitga’at First Nation, and Madii Lii have all launched court cases against the Petronas LNG project on Lelu Island.
First Nations examples are good because they involve aboriginal title issues, but do the inhabitants of cities like Burnaby and Vancouver have any rights when it comes to Kinder Morgan’s desire to increase the amount of bitumen being brought into their territory?
A reporter at this morning’s press conference asked about the implications of what McKenna was saying to the oil sands, pipeline projects, or indigenous rights to say ‘no’ to extraction on their lands.
Bringing COP21 Home To Canada
“Obviously this is really critical to have an international framework. Canada is playing a role here, but we are going to have to go home and do a lot of hard work. We understand we need to be working with our indigenous peoples.
“We will be working with our indigenous peoples, we will be working with the provinces and territories and we’ll be sitting down and figuring out this Canadian framework.
“The same principles that we are promoting here – when it comes to indigenous rights, when it comes to recognition of the roles of the provinces and territories – will play out at home.
” … I’m already having discussions here. I’ve had many, many discussions with indigenous leaders … and I had a breakfast this morning with premiers to talk about these issues. What are we going to do? How are we going to make progress when we go home?
“But what is really important, and I cannot emphasize this enough, is about having a plan and concrete actions to get there and we owe it to Canadians to do it in a proper way, which means sitting down with the provinces and territories, with indigenous leaders, to look at how we’re going to make progress.
“We’ve been clear we are going to have a price on carbon. We are going to reduce our emissions. We have a Green infrastructure plan. … We will go back and we will do the hard work so that Canada does its share to move to a low carbon economy.”
Environmental Review Process
This was not enough for one reporter who, especially now that Canada is pushing for a 1.5 degree ceiling on Global warming, wanted to know how they intend to reconcile these goals with the government’s apparent support for the energy east pipeline.
” … We are reviewing environmental assessments and the energy east pipeline is part of that, but … I don’t like just looking at one particular development. … We are looking at how we are going to make progress to a low carbon economy,” said McKenna.
“What is very encouraging is that we have seen the provinces make many announcements, including here in Paris, about how they want to tackle Climate Change, So we are going to be looking at a whole range of solutions so that we reduce our emissions and have a pan Canadian plan.”
Photo Credits: Before & after photos of the Peace River Valley as a result of BC Hydro’s “road construction” by Garth Lenz; Environment Minister Catherine McKenna; Pipeline Boom carrying internal welding clamp by jasonwoodhead23 via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)