Climate test for resource projects would likely scuttle oilsands growth

Environmental groups say that if Canada and the United States are serious about the climate commitments they made in Paris, they need to establish a common climate test for major resource projects.

OTTAWA — Environmental groups say that if Canada and the United States are serious about the climate commitments they made in Paris, they need to establish a common climate test for major resource projects.

The groups, including the Alberta-based Pembina Institute, Equiterre and Environmental Defence, believe the National Energy Board should be assessing the viability of projects based on a carbon-constrained world.

Such a test, they say, would almost surely reject long-term infrastructure such as major oil pipelines on the grounds of the 1.5-degree global warming limit championed by the Liberal government at the UN climate summit last December.

The federal government is making pipelines and other proposed resource projects subject to an assessment of upstream emissions, but hasn’t said how those assessments would affect the final decision on a proposal.

The federal government also insists it remains committed to getting Canada’s energy resources to world markets through what it describes as sustainable infrastructure.

Sidney Ribaux of the group Equiterre says the Paris climate scenario effectively means that an increase in oilsands production is incompatible with holding global temperature increases to near 1.5 degrees Celsius.

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