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Liberal agenda to reduce emissions while expanding pipelines contradictory, say critics

Just before parliament resumes, The Current looks at what's on the Liberal's agenda and if it's even possible to balance approving pipelines while aiming to reduce emissions. Some say that just doesn't make sense.
President and CEO of the Canada West Foundation, Martha Hall Findlay says pipelines can be compatible with reducing emissions. (Trans Mountain)

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Both climate and energy issues will be coming to a head soon with Parliament resuming next week.

One big decision on the Trudeau government's docket will be whether to approve an expansion to Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline — a decision is expected before the end of the year.

On the other hand, there's the effort to put a price on carbon and to ratify the Paris climate agreement — something many other nations are expected to do in the coming days as part of the UN's Climate Week.

The two objectives may seem at odds to many observers but the question is can the Liberals balance both goals?

Tzeporah Berman has been appointed by the premier of Alberta to co-chair the Oilsands Advisory Working Group studying how to implement the new climate plan and develop a pathway to 2050. She is speaking on behalf of herself not for the company.

"We're not really having an honest conversation … about whether or not you need a new pipeline under that cap. The fact is oil is getting to market now and we could even increase production to the cap without more pipelines," Berman tells The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti.

Berman says studies show that in order to meet Canada's commitment below two degrees, "you need to cap emissions from the oil sands at a level that doesn't require a new pipeline."

As for if carbon pricing could help reduce emissions, Berman argues logistically it won't fly.

"To actually constrain emissions enough to meet our targets, we would need a price on carbon that is far higher than politically anyone is willing to put in place."

CEO of the Canada West Foundation, Martha Hall Findlay believes pricing carbon can happen and would be successful because it would deal with demand and consumption which she says "is the true heart of the whole concept of greenhouse gas emissions."

"When we're looking at what we should be doing in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, we need to look at the entire energy system," Findlay tells Tremonti.

"We are in a position of having a tremendous opportunity to capitalize on our resources, that's great for our economy. We should be able to transport what we produce in the most environmentally sustainable way which is in fact pipelines — far better than rail or truck."

Listen to the full conversation at the top of this post.

This segment was produced by The Current's Lara O'Brien, Julian Uzielli and Jacqueline McKay.