Keystone Xl Pipeline Kaput, Vancouver City Council Beats Back Big Gas, Again! Meet the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment and Switch It Up BC!

by | Jun 15, 2021 | Podcasts, The Climate Daily

Keystone Xl Pipeline Shut Down For Good! Plus, Vancouver City Council Beats Back Big Gas, Again! Meet the Canadian Association Of Physicians For The Environment, and Switch It Up, British Columbia!



Last week, TC Energy announced that it was finally  terminating the Keystone project. Earlier this year, President Biden had revoked a major permit which would have allowed the pipeline to cross the U.S.-Canada border. The U.S. portion of the project was first proposed in 2008 and eventually became a major symbol of the climate fight.

The controversial pipeline has been at the center of a fight over Indigenous treaties, land rights, and the permitting process. Now, it’s dead.

“TC Energy Corporation …confirmed today that after a comprehensive review of its options, and in consultation with its partner, the Government of Alberta, it has terminated the Keystone XL Pipeline Project,” said Wednesday’s statement from the company.

“What happened this week sends a signal to both industry and the administration that we can’t be stopped, that our movements are, especially, indigenous rights, climate justice, that nexus in particular, is very determined,” said Jade Begay, climate justice campaign director for the NDN Collective, an indigenous-led group.

Why does this matter to us? Because it shows that activism works. Last year, Dominion Energy Inc. and Duke Energy Corp. abandoned the $8 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline, meant to move West Virginia natural gas to East Coast markets, andWilliams Cos. dropped its Constitution natural gas pipeline after failing to gain a water permit from New York state.

“When this fight began, people thought Big Oil couldn’t be beat,’ Bill McKibben, author and the founder of 350 who has fought the pipeline for more than a decade, said in a statement. “But when enough people rise up we’re stronger even than the richest fossil fuel companies.” 

DEEPER DIVE: WSJ, Gizmodo, The Hill, NRDC



The City of Vancouver staved off a push by powerful natural gas lobbyists to delay the city’s   Climate Emergency Action Plan. Earlier this month, in a letter addressed to Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart, the Canadian Institute of Plumbing and Heating had called on Vancouver to delay its zero-emissions building plan by up to two years, claiming not delaying will unfairly raise prices for people trying to buy a new home.

Given the average price of a single-detached home in Vancouver is about $1.5 million, the argument didn’t seem to make sense. Dave Ramslie, vice-president of innovation and sustainability at Concert Properties, said, “It’s not the electrical versus natural gas that is pricing people out of the market.”

As of 2019, 54 per cent of carbon emissions in Vancouver came from natural gas use in buildings.

As reported by The Climate Daily, Vancouver’s 2020-2025 Climate Emergency Action Plan, is designed to move Vancouver toward reducing emissions by 50 per cent by 2030. Under the plan, a ban on gas appliances in new home construction begins Jan. 1, 2022. New homes in the city must install zero-emissions heating and hot water systems.

With a vote of six to five, Mayor Stewart and the council elected to continue with the scheduled deadline.

“Delay is the new climate denial,” said Coun. Christine Boyle in the lead up to the vote. “We don’t need to pit these issues against each other.”

And that’s why this matters to us. It’s a reminder that lobbyists are there to remind us that extractive industries will not go quietly into the night, and to be prepared for their challenges.

DEEPER DIVE: Delta-Optimist, The Tyee, Vancouver Climate Emergency Action Plan, Green Vancouver



One of the advocacy groups pushing for Vancouver to stand its ground and keep the natural gas appliances ban intact is the Canadian Association for Physicians for the Environment. It was founded in 1993, with the intent of seeking to better understand how the environment affects human health, taking action contributes to the protection and promotion of human health through the lens of preventing environmental degradation, and educating all health care professionals, the public as well as policy makers about the links between environmental health and human health.

Why does this matter to us? Because the Canadian Association Of Physicians For The Environment understands their position in the community as “trusted voices.” As such, they’re able to leverage that to reach people who otherwise might not make the connection between climate health and human health. Or care…

Some victories CAPE, in partnership with other climate advocacy groups have had include shutting down all Ontario’s coal plants; and getting a national commitment to phase out coal production and use in Canada by 2030.

CAPE also provides educational materials on its website, including a toolkit which has been designed for health professionals and students in the health care and public health sectors who want to engage more directly with their community on the issue of climate change. It helps them act as advocates for the policies, programs and practices needed to mitigate climate change and/or prepare for climate change in their workplaces and communities.

CAPE also created the Switch It Up program, designed to educate and motivate Canadians to switch from unhealthy natural gas to electricity for home cooking and home heating needs.

DEEPER DIVE: CAPE BC, Climate Health Toolkit



Melissa Lem, a family doctor and president-elect of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE), says she was moved to speak before the Vancouver City council on behalf of her patients prior to its victory.

“In a climate emergency, natural gas has no place in our homes,” she tells Glacier Media.

For instance: Natural-gas kitchen appliances pollute the home with nitrogen dioxide (NO2), an air contaminant, which could exacerbate asthma for any household sufferers. 

And 54 per cent of carbon emissions in Vancouver, BC come from natural gas use in buildings, like from natural gas furnaces, water heaters, clothes dryers, and fireplaces. 

These are some of the reasons the Canadian Association Of Physicians For The Environment developed the Switch It Up BC campaign. They partnered with Clean Energy BC to raise awareness of healthier and non-polluting 100 per cent electric heating and cooking technologies.

Switch It Up BC offers resources on contractors and rebates available to existing building/homeowners and landlords who wish to make the switch from gas to electric.

Why does Switch It Up BC matter to the rest of us? According to a report commissioned by BC natural gas distributor Fortis BC, although there are fewer than 30,000 apartments, condos and single-family homes in all of British Columbia, and only a portion of them use natural-gas for heating and cooking, together they contribute the same amount of climate pollution each year as more than 870,000 vehicles!   

Imagine how much GHG pollution we would save if the 30,000 natural gas homes in your neck of the woods, multiplied by everybody’s neck of the woods were to switch to clean electric sources….

DEEPER DIVE: FortisBC, Switch It Up BC!