On March 2, 118 environmental and citizen groups and academics from the Atlantic and the rest of Canada sent a letter urging the federal government to reject the proposal of what would be Canada’s first offshore deepwater oil project.
The project — Equinor and partner Husky’s Bay du Nord — has been off and on for years, but in November, the company said it was on track to start extracting oil by 2028. The project, which includes numerous exploration and discovery licences, the creation of a floating production station and the drilling of up to 40 wells in the Flemish Pass Basin, is about 500 kilometres east-northeast of St. John’s.
Signatories to the letter include academics such as Dr. Angela Carter, an associate professor at the University of Waterloo and a member of the Newfoundland and Labrador government’s Net-Zero Advisory Council, and environmental groups such as the Sierra Club and the Social Justice Co-operative of Newfoundland and Labrador.
“The Bay du Nord project poses significant environmental risks and it would undermine the urgent global effort to reduce emissions and protect climate stability. Instead of expanding oil production, our priority challenge right now is managing a wind-down of oil production that allows workers and communities to seize the benefits of the low-carbon energy transition,” said Carter.
“Approving Bay du Nord would take Newfoundland and Labrador in the wrong direction — both in terms of the climate crisis and long-term economic security.”
Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault has a March 6 deadline to release a decision on Bay du Nord, which some environmentalists bill as his first “climate test” since taking on this cabinet role in the fall.
“The latest IPCC report makes it clear that any further delaying of climate action will cause irreparable damage to societies and ecosystems across the planet,” reads part of the group’s press release, which said approving the project would be an "act of climate hypocrisy."
Instead, the letter says, the federal government should be supporting the province, which relies heavily on oil, in a just transition — something that more than four out of five people in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador say they want.
The Climate Action Network (CAN) also sent a letter opposing Bay du Nord the government’s way. The group, which includes more than 1,500 civil society organizations in over 130 countries, outlined international concerns with Canada taking on the project.
Signatories say the project would not only emit significant carbon into the atmosphere but threaten the natural environment of the Flemish Pass Basin and go against Canada's climate goals. #BayduNord
CAN's letter notes Canada’s commitments at COP26, which took place in Glasgow in fall 2021. At the conference, Canada committed to capping emissions from the oil and gas sector at today’s levels, while also cementing five-year emission reduction targets for the oil and gas sector with a goal to reach net-zero by 2050, the letter notes.
“Approving a project that will increase oil and gas emissions at the exact time when Canada is creating a policy to target oil and gas emissions calls into question the stringency, ambition, and effectiveness of your proposed emissions cap — a contradiction to the promises your government made in Glasgow,” reads part of the CAN letter.
“...This is in direct opposition to recommendations in the IEA’s groundbreaking Roadmap to Net Zero and 1.5 C World Energy Outlook scenario to stop the expansion of oil, gas and coal production and infrastructure and escalate the global transition away from fossil fuel dependence and toward renewable energy.”