Editor's note: This is one of four opinion pieces published today on the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline. For the complete selection of pieces, go here.

Recently, some real progress has been made in Canada on combating climate change. In fact, earlier this month First Ministers gathered in Ottawa to agree to a National Climate Plan that includes a national price on carbon. Just a few years ago, under Stephen Harper’s leadership, these kind of measures where unthinkable.

So, given the apparent sea change in Ottawa, why do environmentalists persist with their defensive fight against fossil fuel infrastructure like Kinder Morgan’s pipeline? Wouldn’t we get better results by working with the Trudeau government rather than fighting them on this issue?

Unfortunately, the truth is that despite the federal government's commitment to acting on climate, the results so far have been the creation of an ambitious (and laudable) plan to reach a weak goal. Sadly, much more needs to be done before we can declare that we have a real plan for Canada to do its fair share of the global effort.

The National Climate Plan is not based on the goal of limiting climate change impacts to 1.5 degrees, which scientists state is necessary to avoid global disaster; nor even the two degree increase in global temperatures that has long been the goal of the United Nations process. The goal that the National Climate Plan seeks to achieve is based on targets that were set by the Harper Government. Taken together within the current commitments to the Paris treaty, these targets have us heading for a three degree increase - a level at which scientists agree that large parts of the earth will become inhospitable to human civilization.

Environmentalists are not alone in opposing Kinder Morgan. Here in BC we stand with 59 First Nations who oppose Kinder Morgan’s pipeline. These Nations see this project as a direct threat to their traditional territories and an extension of long standing policies that have trampled on their rights. Reconciliation is hard work and it must be built on a foundation of solidarity and mutual respect. Forcing this pipeline on First Nations without their consent only erodes what progress we have made to rebuild our relationships with indigenous peoples.

With a seven-fold increase in tanker traffic off our coast, the chance of a serious oil spill will increase 168 per cent overall for the entire Salish Sea, but most significantly in Haro Strait and Boundary Pass by 475 per cent, and by 138 per cent in the Gulf Islands. While the Federal government has promised to spend lots of taxpayer money monitoring and studying coastal waters, it remains a stubborn fact that the oil sands crude carried by these tankers sinks in the ocean and can never be effectively cleaned up.

While I have a lot of sympathy for workers from Alberta’s oil patch who are out of work due to the current downturn in global oil prices, as well as Alberta’s Premier Notley who faces the challenge of governing in hard times, the idea that new pipeline capacity will alleviate these problems is simply not based in any economic reality.

Oil sands crude is more expensive to extract and lower in quality than conventional oil, meaning that it is more vulnerable to shifts in global oil prices. Even if this government builds more pipelines, in the end workers will continue to struggle to find jobs until the price of oil comes back or Alberta diversifies its economy.

But you don’t have to take my word for it that pipelines don’t improve the economics of the oil sands. Instead, take a look at Statoil who was once a major player in the oil sands and has a contract to ship oil on the Kinder Morgan pipeline. Less than a week after federal approval of the pipeline was announced, Statoil sold the last of their holdings in Alberta. Paul Fulton, president of Statoil Canada, made it clear in his announcement that “the lack of access to new markets” was not a factor in their decision. In other words, it was not the lack of pipeline access that drove them to sell.

Still not convinced? Well maybe you should consult with Jeff Rubin, the former chief economist at CIBC World Markets, who challenges yet another key economic argument that is used to sell the Kinder Morgan pipeline. We have been told we need to get Canadian oil to growing markets in Asia, but when Rubin looked into this idea it comes apart pretty quickly. It turns out that heavy oil, like the kind that comes from the oil sands, is worth about $8 less per barrel in Asia than in the U.S.. That means oil companies using the new Kinder Morgan pipeline to ship their oil to Asia rather than shipping to the U.S. through existing under-utilized pipelines could lose as much as $4.7 million per day in potential profits. You don’t need a degree in economics to see that is a bad idea.

Until the day comes that we can say Canada has a climate plan built around a target based on science, until reconciliation with First Nations is more than an aspiration, until there is an effective way to clean up oil sands crude and the economics of exporting it make sense, we must continue to fight bad projects like the Kinder Morgan pipeline and we must win.