Alberta pulled a fast one on the other energy ministers at yesterday’s (oil-industry sponsored) Energy Ministers’ meeting in Kananaskis. They managed to get most of the other provinces to endorse a strategy that calls for more tar sands pipelines, based on a fossil fuel-driven scenario for future energy demand that the International Energy Agency has said would lead in 6 degrees of global warming, resulting in “massive climatic change and irreparable damage to the planet.”

And thanks to the miracle of Twitter, I have confirmation from an official spokesperson for the Government of Alberta that they were fully aware that we only need that much expensive and dirty oil from the tar sands in a world where the climate is going haywire. As part of a twitter discussion, I asked David Sands if he had read a short analysis I published (complete with graphs for oil demand) on a European news site, to which he replied “@climatekeith Reading it faithfully ow.ly/5DPHd

You see, the backgrounder for the communique sent out yesterday uses the do-nothing-about-climate-change “Current Policies” scenario published by the IEA in their World Energy Outlook 2010. But there were two other scenarios, including one where the global demand for oil falls and as a consequence there is a market for less than half of the tar sands projects currently under construction or in the approvals process. 

Greenpeace has worked with the renewable energy industry and experts at the German Aerospace Agency to map out our own Energy [Revolution plan for reducing global greenhouse gas emissions even further (the IEA's low-carbon strategy has only a 50% chance of keeping warming below the 2 degree level that nations have agreed is the maximum we should allow). This global energy strategy, where we don't need any new oil from the tar sands and can phase out existing operations, was one of the four principal scenarios featured in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recent Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources.  

That is the kind of future we think our energy ministers should be aiming for. 

Kudos to Ontario for not falling for this little trick, and for calling on the feds to support renewable energy in the way they have the tar sands. We hope the other energy ministers will clarify whether they really meant to endorse 6 degrees of warming, recognizing the devastating ecological and social consequences of that choice.