Environmental groups are challenging Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change’s decision to approve Equinor’s Bay du Nord, a controversial $12bn oil and gas project off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Ecojustice, on behalf of Équiterre and Sierra Club Canada Foundation, filed the lawsuit against Minister Guilbeault in federal court on May 6. The groups say the project’s approval clashes with Canada’s international obligations and the urgent call to reduce global emissions.
Minister Guilbeault insists Equinor will be required to meet 137 conditions in developing the project, including a condition that the project be net zero on greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. This target, however, says Ecojustice, fails to account for the massive downstream emissions the project will generate.
According to Ecojustice, industry and government rhetoric around “clean oil” ignores the fact that the process of extracting oil accounts for only 10% of the emissions from an oil project, with the other 90% coming when the oil is burned. Recent estimates suggest that, over its lifetime, Bay du Nord will produce between 300m and 1bn barrels of oil, which could in turn generate about 400m tonnes of carbon, equivalent to the emissions from 7m to 10m cars per year.
On May 10, the night before Equinor’s AGM, a projection onto Equinor’s headquarters building in Norway and other landmarks in Stavanger featured testimony from Canadians opposing the Bay du Nord development, as Equinor considers a final investment decision in the project.