David Suzuki apologizes for remark on pipelines being ‘blown up’ over climate change

Environmentalist tweets that he was misinterpreted in attack on Kinder Morgan after Green Party Leader Elizabeth May links him to a gaffe

David Suzuki apologizes for remark on pipelines being ‘blown up’ over climate change

Environmentalist David Suzuki has apologized for saying pipelines are being “blown up” because Canada “might just be on a pathway to losing our Arctic sovereignty” – after Elizabeth May insinuated that the remark was prompted by his prior support for the development of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline project.

The 68-year-old environmentalist told supporters on Saturday in a video obtained by the Guardian that he was “humbled” by the reactions to his comment, which he had directed to May, the Green party leader.

“Whether you agree with me or not, I’m sorry the comment I made was misinterpreted,” Suzuki said in the clip, in which he cites the calls for the “insolvent” Trans Mountain to be reversed as one of the contributing factors for what he called a “climate catastrophe” in Alberta.

“Of course, there are plenty of oil companies ready to invest billions of dollars into reversing the pipeline. It’s a disgrace how much more time we’re going to waste negotiating with them for profit,” he said.

“And the fact that we are cutting every deal we can cut with them is the best thing to happen in my lifetime to avoid this climate disaster. I hope the BHP and all the other energy companies are listening to me.”

Teresa Wat, the federal NDP leader, had earlier tweeted that it was “wrong” for Suzuki to have suggested that the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline – which was years in the planning but never built amid intense community and environmental opposition in B.C. – was the only solution to protecting northern B.C. from climate change.

“The race to roll back #AGL and #NGPC is losing,” Wat said. “Canadians are not prepared to let us lose this one.”

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May, in turn, wrote on Twitter that “deep beneath the surface, far more answers were in Suzuki’s remarks”.

“He clearly acknowledges that a lack of leadership has lead to our current situation,” she wrote. “David is calling on us to cut off the fossil fuel madness which now threatens to blow up our northern sovereignty.”

May, a co-chair of the climate justice coalition 350.org, has also called on the energy companies to sign a deal with indigenous leaders to build on the gains made in the fight against fossil fuels.

Suzuki had previously backed the pipeline while a board member of Kinder Morgan. In 2014, he wrote in the Guardian that Alberta needed to find a long-term solution to the environmental problems presented by its greenhouse gas emissions.

“The point is – stop the leaks, plug the leaks,” he wrote. “There are too many leaks for the solution to be to walk out and stop burning oil.”

Only a handful of cabinet ministers from the Liberal government were willing to point out Suzuki’s comment when speaking on Saturday.

Following several inquiries to the prime minister’s office and the environment department, a departmental spokeswoman said only that Canada’s best defence against climate change is its “pragmatic, fair and positive approach.”

“Canada is far better prepared to handle any crisis than other countries have ever been, and we are doing everything we can to encourage job creation and economic diversification in Canada,” spokesperson Siobhan Coady said.

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