South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu called Alberta’s oilsands “filth” while speaking at a conference in Fort McMurray, Alta. on Saturday.
The Archbishop, according to media reports, also called for a boycott of fossil fuel companies, and said he stands in solidarity with communities that are opposed to oilsands pipeline projects, such as Keystone XL, Northern Gateway and Energy East.
Contrary to what one might expect, Tutu did not arrive in Canada by sailing ship. Nor did he travel to Alberta by wagon train. Moreover, once he had arrived at Fort McMurray, he was not shepherded around by horse and buggy.
It’s highly unusual for an American envoy to give interviews interpreting and parsing the meaning of a U.S. president’s speech. David Jacobson wouldn’t have done that without clearance from the White House.
Jacobson was explaining Barack Obama’s many references to climate change in his State of the Union address on Tuesday, and the unstated connection to the Keystone XL pipeline project, from Alberta to the Gulf Coast of Texas.
This isn’t about the pipeline, it’s about the Alberta oilsands, and greenhouse-gas emissions from bitumen. It’s about environmental activists in the U.S. making Keystone their line in the sand on climate change. Thousands are expected to demonstrate at the White House on Sunday.
Obama has a decision to make — to approve or not to approve Keystone. Jacobson said it would be helpful if Canada could reiterate its commitment to progress on climate change, striking a balance between the economy and the environment.
“I think there are an awful lot of people who are trying to make up their minds and trying to draw the right balance between these two things,” Jacobson said, “who I think will be moved by progress.”
Well, it really only matters what two people think, what Secretary of State John Kerry recommends, and what the president decides. As for commitments, Obama and Stephen Harper launched the Clean Energy Dialogue in 2009, and both countries support the emissions reductions targets in the 2009 Copenhagen Accord of 17 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020.
This certainly isn’t about the route of the pipeline, not since TransCanada proposed an alternative route around a Nebraska aquifer. Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman, who opposed the previous route, has approved the revised one and urged Obama to do the same.