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Open letter to Premier Houston: Nova Scotians deserve a just transition away from offshore oil & gas

Group calls on Nova Scotians to add their voices to efforts to end offshore oil and gas develop in the province
Offshore Oilrig

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report states in no uncertain terms that humanity needs to move away from fossil fuels immediately.

At the same time, four out of five Nova Scotians support a transition to renewable energy and a low-carbon economy. Despite this, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers has been pushing hard to expand offshore drilling and exploration in Atlantic Canada.

The following open letter was sent on Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021 to the Premier of Nova Scotia and relevant Ministers by Ecology Action Centre, Sierra Club Canada Foundation, Council of Canadians, Campaign to Protect Offshore Nova Scotia and Clean Ocean Action Committee on behalf of the Offshore Alliance. To add your voice to the call to end offshore oil and gas development in Nova Scotia and support a just transition for affected worker, click here!


Dear Premier Houston and Honourable Cabinet Ministers,

The Offshore Alliance congratulates you all on your recent election as Nova Scotia’s next leaders. Now your real work to address climate change begins.

Your team comes to power at a pivotal time for our country, our province and our people. Greenhouse gases continue to accumulate, and the impacts of climate change are ever more acute and distressing.

The summer of 2021 alone provided many examples, including the devastating wildfires in central and western Canada. Closer to home, we’re experiencing one of the highest rates of sea level rise in the country, with coastal erosion impacting businesses, communities and habitats alike.

A course correction is urgently needed

Successive Nova Scotian governments have prioritized short-term economic gains from offshore fossil fuel exploration and development over meaningful climate action and the preservation of marine ecosystems and fisheries which are the backbone of our sustainable economy.

In the face of the growing climate crisis, the province continued to invest in offshore oil and gas development activities. Meanwhile, the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board juggles dueling mandates to protect the marine environment and promote resource extraction. Ill-spent tax dollars backed an industry whose expansion places our climate, health and livelihoods at unacceptable risk.

Nova Scotians expect your government to pivot towards a sustainable direction.

Political rhetoric and inaction are out of step with reality

Calls continue to come loud and clear from experts, labour and even many in the fossil fuel industry. The time for meaningful reductions in greenhouse gas emissions still driving global warming, and a just transition to a low-carbon economy is upon us.

Based on this year’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, the United Nations called for an immediate end to new fossil fuel development, calling global temperature rise a “code red for humanity”. Further, the UN advocates for shifting fossil fuel subsidies to renewable energy.

In May 2021, the International Energy Agency (IAE) urged a halt to new fossil fuel projects by year’s end, saying climate change is “the greatest challenge humankind has ever faced.”

Abacus Data poll showed 61 per cent of Canadian oil and gas workers believe the time is here to pivot towards a net-zero emission economy, with 69 per cent willing to consider being a part of the shift and solutions.

Unifor, representing over 12,000 workers in the oil and gas sector, are in support of a more ambitious plan to achieve greenhouse gas reductions provided supports are in place to help the workforce transition to a low-carbon economy.

Nova Scotians overwhelmingly want to live in a low-carbon economy

Never before has our province had a stronger, more straightforward imperative to take action and address our climate crisis.

Polling this summer by Narrative Research showed four out of five Nova Scotians want to see a transition to renewable energy and improved energy efficiency – as well as training and income support for affected oil and gas workers. The polling, commissioned by the Council of Canadians, Sierra Club Canada Foundation and Ecology Action Centre, also revealed widespread agreement that any post-pandemic recovery must prioritize support for people who have been made vulnerable by the current economy.

Thirteen municipal governments across Nova Scotia have supported calls for a public inquiry on the risks associated with drilling for offshore oil and gas.

As we rebuild from the economic and societal ravages of the pandemic, your government must focus on a just and green recovery - one that prioritizes collective well-being over the pursuit of profit for the few and recognizes that our own health relies on the health of the ecosystems that sustain us.

Demonstrate and lead a better way forward

The Offshore Alliance calls on the new government of Nova Scotia to:

Protect the fisheries and ecosystems on Georges Bank [Scotian Shelf and Bay of Fundy] by extending the current oil and gas moratorium before the end of 2021;

End all subsidies, supports and development of fossil fuels in Nova Scotia’s offshore by December 2022;

End all new offshore oil and gas development, including all new drilling and exploration projects; and

Invest in policies and programs to support affected oil and gas workers and others through the transition to a low-carbon economy, to ensure no one is left behind.

The act of moving away from fossil fuels and towards a net-zero economy isn’t a political stance, rather a societal and ecological imperative. Government, industry and communities must come together to secure a safe and livable home for us all.

We, and all Nova Scotians, demand these values and specifics to be upfront in your government’s priorities.


Ecology Action Centre

Sierra Club Canada Foundation

Council of Canadians

Campaign to Protect Offshore Nova Scotia

Clean Ocean Action Committee

We are members of the Offshore Alliance, a growing coalition of fisheries groups, NGOs, individuals and community organizations determined to change the industry-captive regulatory regime governing our offshore oil and gas industry.

Riley Smith

About the Author: Riley Smith

Riley Smith is Village Media's Communications Specialist. She joined the team in 2018. Riley graduated from Public Relations and Event Management after completing a double major in History and Political Science at Algoma University.
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