As Nobel prize winners, we demand Justin Trudeau stop the Teck Frontier mine

John Coetzee, Alice Munro, Muhammad Yunus, Elfriede Jelinek and others
‘There is no room for expansion of the fossil fuel sector. There is no room for the Teck Frontier tar sands mine.’ Photograph: Patrick Doyle/Reuters

21 Feb 2020

All new projects that enable fossil fuel growth are an affront to our state of climate emergency. It is a disgrace Canada is considering them

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Freeland,

The year 2020 has already become one defined by devastating impacts of climate change. While we celebrated the ambition of countries – including Canada – that demanded the enshrinement of 1.5C in the Paris climate agreement, it is increasingly clear that even this is a compromise with deeply tragic implications for the world’s climate-vulnerable regions.

The importance of leadership in the coming few years cannot be understated. Governments are lagging scandalously behind what science demands, and what a growing and powerful people-powered movement knows is necessary.

There is enough carbon embedded in already operating oil, gas and coalfields and mines to take us beyond 2C, let alone 1.5C. The implications of this are clear: there is no room for expansion of the fossil-fuel sector. There is no room for the Teck Frontier tar sands mine.

Projects that enable fossil-fuel growth at this moment in time are an affront to our state of climate emergency, and the mere fact that they warrant debate in Canada should be seen as a disgrace. They are wholly incompatible with your government’s recent commitment to net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050. And with clear infringements on First Nations rights, such projects fly in the face of rhetoric and purported efforts towards reconciliation.

The response to the climate crisis will define and destroy legacies in the coming years, and the qualifications for being on the right side of history are clear: an immediate end to fossil-fuel financing and expansion along with an ambitious and just transition away from oil and gas production towards zero carbon well before mid-century.

As recipients of the Nobel Prize, we call on you and your cabinet to act with the moral clarity required by the state of this crisis and reject the proposed Teck Frontier mine proposal.


Hans Deisenhofer, Chemistry (1988), Gerhard Ertl, Chemistry (2007), Edmond Fischer, Chemistry (1992), Joachim Frank, Chemistry (2017), Dudley Herschbach, Chemistry (1986), Roald Hoffmann, Chemistry (1981), Roger Kornberg, Chemistry (2006), Roderick MacKinnon, Chemistry (2003), John E Walker, Chemistry (1997), Kurt Wüthrich, Chemistry (2002), Edmund Phelps, Economics (2006), John Coetzee, Literature (2003), Elfriede Jelinek, Literature (2004), Alice Munro, Literature (2013), Elizabeth H Blackburn, Medicine (2009), William C Campbell, Medicine (2015), Mario Capecchi, Medicine (2007), Andrew Fire, Medicine (2006), Louis Ignarro, Medicine (1998), Brian Kobilka, Medicine (2012), Erwin Neher, Medicine (1991), Richard J Roberts, Medicine (1993), Michael Rosbash, Medicine (2017), Gregg Semenza, Medicine (2019), Thomas Sudhof, Medicine (2013), Jack W Szostak, Medicine (2009), Shirin Ebadi, Peace (2003), Leymah Gbowee, Peace (2011), Tawakkol Karman, Peace (2011), Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Peace (1980), Jose Ramos-Horta, Peace (1996), Mairead Maguire, Peace (1976), Kailash Satyarthi, Peace (2014), Muhammad Yunus, Peace (2006), Jody Williams, Peace (1997), Philip W Anderson, Physics (1977), Barry Barish, Physics (2017), Sheldon Glashow, Physics (1979), David Gross, Physics (2004), Brian Josephson, Physics (1973), David Politzer, Physics (2004), Takaaki Kajita, Physics (2015)

[Top photo: ‘There is no room for expansion of the fossil fuel sector. There is no room for the Teck Frontier tar sands mine.’ Photograph: Patrick Doyle/Reuters]