Greenpeace welcomes President Obama

Feature story - February 17, 2009
President Obama was extended a warm Canadian welcome this morning when Greenpeace activists unveiled two large banners on the Alexandra Bridge in Ottawa that read “Welcome President Obama” and “Climate Leaders Don’t Buy Tar Sands”.

Greenpeace activists unveil welcoming banners for President Obama.

The Action

Around 9 a.m., 10 Greenpeace activists unveiled the banners on the Alexandra Bridge to encourage the President to show leadership on climate change and reject dirty oil from the tar sands. At the time of this release, the banners and climbers were still in place.

Putting climate change on the agenda

Greenpeace undertook its Ottawa action to help put climate change and energy issues at the top of the agenda for the President's visit. Greenpeace hopes the new U.S. president will tell Prime Minister Harper that the dirtiest oil on the planet does not fit with his plan for a green economy.

Stop the Tar Sands

Greenpeace's campaign to stop the Alberta tar sands, which produce the dirtiest oil on the planet, continues. Greenpeace is encouraging President Obama to be the first "Green" president by showing leadership on climate change and rejecting dirty oil from the tar sands.

While campaigning in 2008, (then Senator) Obama described oil as "a 19th century fossil fuel that is dirty, dwindling, and dangerously expensive." Greenpeace is calling on the President to support low-carbon fuel standards in the U.S.A. that would discourage importing dirty tar sands oil. Canada is now the biggest supplier of oil to the United States, and a large percentage of that oil is produced from Alberta's tar sands.

Canada undermines efforts to fight climate change

Prime Minister Harper is expected to promote the tar sands as a secure source of oil for the U.S. and look for an exemption for the tar sands from any joint initiatives to address climate change in his meeting with the President.

There should be absolutely no exemptions for tar sands emissions under any proposals to address global warming such as a cap-and-trade agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in both countries.

Need for stronger reduction targets in Canada and the US

The targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions for both the US and Canada are far too weak to prevent the catastrophic effects of global climate change.

A goal of the Ottawa action and Greenpeace's Stop the Tar Sands and its KYOTOplus campaigns is to convince President Obama and Prime Minister Harper to adopt greenhouse gas reduction targets of at least 25 per cent from 1990 by 2020. That target is in line with advice from international climate scientists and in line with the reduction initiatives in the European Union.

Countdown to Copenhagen

In December, the United Nations will hold an historic climate conference in Copenhagen to strengthen and extend the Kyoto Protocol for fighting global warming.

Now is the time for both the US and Canada to adopt stronger reduction targets and to become leaders in Copenhagen.

A turnaround in attitude is especially needed by the Harper government. Canada again was identified as one of the main obstructionist countries at the recent UN climate conference in Poznan, Poland. Canada blocked efforts to respond to the urgency of dealing with climate change.

Greenpeace supports President Obama's $50 billion green energy stimulus package, but there's no place for tar sands in a green energy economy. Stopping American imports of tar sands would force the Harper government to take a green energy future for Canada seriously - more jobs, a cleaner environment, and healthier economy.

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