On the eve of of COP26, BC’s climate failures are written on Indigenous land
As world leaders gather at COP26 to negotiate in the face of the deadly reality of climate change, smaller, more immediate dramas are playing out on fossil fuel frontlines much closer to home.
In Wet’suwet’en territory this week, hereditary chiefs from Gidimt’en clan have set up a blockade to prevent drilling beneath a salmon-bearing river. Wet’suwet’en people are asserting their jurisdiction over their unceded land by occupying a work site, blocking access roads into their territory and calling on banks and investment firms to divest and stop financing Coastal GasLink and LNG Canada.
In Treaty 8 territory, as BC Hydro contractors attempt to mud-wrestle the Peace River into diversion channels for Site C, West Moberly First Nation is taking to the courts to argue that the project is being built on a foundation of broken Treaty promises.
Nations across B.C. continue to resist the Trans Mountain pipeline and tankers project, a carbon bomb about which Tsleil Waututh Sacred Trust’s Rueben George remarks, “If we are serious about climate action and reconciliation in Canada, construction on TMX must stop now.”
B.C. has once again pushed off any plan to decrease emissions from the province’s oil and gas industry to 2023
Meanwhile, in the lead-up to COP 26, B.C. has unveiled a Climate Road Map that involves a lot of hot air: literally. While 80% of emissions come from the province’s fossil fuel industry, “B.C. has once again pushed off any plan to decrease emissions from the province’s oil and gas industry to 2023,” according to Andrew Gage, staff lawyer with West Coast Environmental Law. “After a deadly heat dome and raging wildfires this summer, B.C. has failed to come up with a plan to achieve its 2025 target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 16 per cent.”
B.C. Premier John Horgan pledged that subsidies for LNG Canada will not compromise the province’s climate targets. But, on the heels of that promise, the government’s detailed plan for how to meet reduced emission targets was postponed, first from 2020 to the end of 2021, and now to 2023. The holdup is occurring in tandem with a rush of permits that will keep the fracking and oil and gas industries pumping for another generation.
How are these failures being written on the land?
According to Wet’suwet’en advocate Delee Nikal, “Coastal GasLink, and its employees continue to steam roll ahead, blasting through our sacred Likhts’amisyu mountain areas and bulldozing our ancient war trails. The impact CGL has made is severe and the speed with which they have accomplished that is devastating for us to witness.”
They’re ripping it up. They’ve destroyed old-growth forest in the valley. They’ve cleared off most of the islands right now
As for the Peace Valley, laments West Moberly First Nations Chief Roland Willson, “They’re ripping it up. They’ve destroyed old-growth forest in the valley. They’ve cleared off most of the islands right now — those were refuges for wildlife … The trees will grow back [but] it won’t be old-growth.”
The plan appears to be to force through infrastructure for long-term fossil fuel projects now, over the objections of First Nations and the promises of Treaty 8 — and, according to Wet’suwet’en chiefs – Canada’s own Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Learn more about how RAVEN is supporting Wet’suwet’en and West Moberly First Nations’ resistance in the face of Coastal GasLink and Site C Dam, and find out what’s next for TMX. Join a webinar with Rueben George and Chiefs Smogelgem and Roland Willson, hosted by WE-CAN’s Guy Dauncey, on Wednesday, November 17 at 4pm.