Charges dropped for Greenpeace opponents of Trans Mountain pipeline who hung from Vancouver bridge

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      Greenpeace has shared a bit of good news for opponents of the Canadian government's Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Activists who unfurled large flags below Vancouver's Ironworkers Memorial Bridge last July in a demonstration against the project have learned authorities will not pursue charges against them.

      “We’re glad to hear the news that the charges against myself and the 11 other activists that participated in the Trans Mountain tanker blockade have been dropped,” says Farid Iskander, a student based in Vancouver, quoted in a Greenpeace media release.

      “With that said it’s atrocious that the government continues to prosecute and send people to jail for standing up against a project that the Federal Court of Appeal found lacks proper approval," he continues. "Over 220 people have been arrested standing up to this pipeline, and while charges against the 12 of us have been dropped, many defenders have faced or still face potential jail time for defending the land, water and climate from the destruction that the Trans Mountain expansion would inevitably cause.”

      On July 3, a dozen activists took part in a demonstration that saw them unfurl flags below the bridge, which crosses the Burrard Inlet to connects the city of Vancouver with North Vancouver.

      "After spending more than 35 hours on the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge in Vancouver, the climbers who rappelled from the bridge and supporting blockade members were peacefully removed from their positions," reads a Greenpeace Canada release sent to media later that day. "The RCMP are taking the activists to the North Vancouver RCMP detachment."

      In today's media release, Mike Hudema, a climate and energy campaigner with Greenpeace Canada, tied ongoing protests against the planned expensaion of the Trans Mountain pipeline to a United Nations report on climate change released yesterday (October 8) that warns the world is all but out of time to avert catastrophic effects of humans' unrestrained release of carbon emissions.

      “We took this action because we know that in an era of climate crisis and supposed reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, we cannot afford to build a pipeline that lacks Indigenous consent and flies in the face of our international climate commitments especially given yesterday’s dire IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] report,” Hudema says quoted there. “While we are relieved that our charges have been dropped, we call on all levels of government to drop the charges against all those who have stood up against this unlawful project. None of us are free until we’re all free and this pipeline is off the table for good.”

      A summary of the IPCC's report makes clear that, while its authors emphasize the need to keep global warming below 1.5°C, that is no longer a likely scenario.

      "Pathways reflecting current nationally stated mitigation ambition until 2030 are broadly consistent with cost-effective pathways that result in a global warming of about 3°C by 2100, with warming continuing afterwards (medium confidence)," it reads.

      As the Straight reported yesterday, media outlets around the world shared news of this latest warning from scientists with dramatic headlines.

      "UN report on global warming carries life-or-death warning", reads one in today's Globe and Mail.

      And from BBC News: "Final call to save the world from 'climate catastrophe'".

      Greenpeace Canada

      The Trans Mountain expansion project involves twinning an oil pipeline that runs from Edmonton—where it receives diluted bitumen from the Alberta oil sands—to a port in Burnaby.

      If the project—which the Canadian government purchased from Kinder Morgan last month—were to go ahead it would triple the amount of bitumen transported to the Lower Mainland, increasing the number of oil tankers moving through Burrard Inlet from some 60 ships per year to more than 400.

      The possibility of such a significant increase in volume has raised concerns for oil spills in Vancouver’s Burrard Inlet as well as along the pipe’s route through southern B.C.