Ecojustice Blog – Climate change Posted on February 24, 2020 (updated: February 24, 2020)

Teck yanks Frontier mine application, Alberta Court of Appeal sides with Kenney. What now?

Devon PageLawyer
Teck yanks Frontier mine application, Alberta Court of Appeal sides with Kenney
Top photo: Mike Beauregard via Flickr (CC BY 2.0), Bottom photo: Pembina Institute via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Late Sunday night, Teck Resources surprised everyone when it announced it was pulling its application for the Frontier tar sands mine — one of the largest, most contentious tar sands projects ever proposed. In a letter to Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, Teck’s CEO wrote:

“…global capital markets are changing rapidly and investors and customers are increasingly looking for jurisdictions to have a framework in place that reconciles resource development and climate change, in order to produce the cleanest possible products … In that context, it is now evident that there is no constructive path forward for the [Frontier] project.

Then, just hours ago, the Alberta Court of Appeal sided with Alberta Premier Jason Kenney in rejecting the federal government’s authority to price carbon pollution. The disappointing ruling stands as an outlier to earlier decisions out of Saskatchewan and Ontario that affirm the federal government’s right to implement national measures to combat the climate emergency.

Where does that leave us now? On the road to the Supreme Court of Canada — but first, here are a few reflections:

Teck’s decision makes it clear that governments’ failure to set comprehensive plans to tackle the climate crisis, both provincially and federally, is bad — bad for the environment, bad for Canadians, and bad for the future of our economy.

To achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, the science-backed target consistent with Canada’s commitment under the Paris Agreement, all levels of governments must cooperate to implement a comprehensive plan to tackle the climate crisis. This plan must include common sense, proven measures like legislated emissions targets and a price on carbon pollution.

The federal government is making strides toward putting forth such a plan, 60 per cent of voters in the last federal election cast ballots for parties that made strong climate commitments, and industry support for measures to address the climate emergency is growing. However, political opposition in Alberta poses a major stumbling block to unified, urgent climate action.

In fact, Alberta’s ballooning emissions and failure to put forward a credible climate plan risk erasing climate progress in other parts of Canada.

There’s no question this is a tough situation. The good news is that Ecojustice is no stranger to uphill battles. But we’re counting on you to keep fighting alongside us.

Next month, the Ecojustice team will appear before the Supreme Court of Canada to urge the country’s highest court to uphold the federal government’s right to price carbon and set minimum national standards to fight the climate emergency.

In the meantime, we have a message for governments across Canada: There is no excuse for inaction. A climate emergency is no time to play politics with our future — it’s a losing game that will only harm the health and well-being of Canadians, the environment, and the economy.

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