Tar sands

Aerial view of Syncrude Aurora tar sands mine in the Boreal Forest north of Fort McMurray. © Greenpeace / Jiri Rezac

Greenpeace is calling on oil companies and the Canadian government to stop the tar sands and end the industrialization of a vast area of Indigenous territories, forests and wetlands in northern Alberta.

The tar sands are huge deposits of bitumen, a tar-like substance that’s turned into oil through complex and energy-intensive processes that cause widespread environmental damage. These processes pollute the Athabasca River, lace the air with toxins and convert farmland into wasteland. Large areas of the Boreal forest are clearcut to make way for development in the tar sands, the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada.

Greenpeace is also concerned with the social and health costs of the tar sands. First Nations communities in the tar sands report unusually high levels of rare cancers and autoimmune diseases. Their traditional way of life is threatened. Substance abuse, suicide, gambling and family violence have increased in the tar sands. Meanwhile, the thousands of workers brought in by oil companies face a housing crisis in northern Alberta.

Enbridge Inc.'s tar sands tanker pipeline proposal threatens to allow a 30 per cent expansion in tar sands development. Enbridge's tar sands pipeline would span 1,170 kilometres from Hardisty, Alberta to Kitimat, in the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia. Over the past decade, Enbridge's own pipelines spilled an average of more than once a week. The pipeline would cross over 1,000 rivers and streams and the Rocky Mountains on the way to B.C.'s pristine coastline. The pipeline would bring more than 200 crude oil tankers through some of the world's most treacherous waters each year.

How Greenpeace works to stop the tar sands

  • Pressuring governments: The governments of Alberta and Canada actively promote tar sands development and ignore international commitments Canada has made to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Through direct action, we draw international attention to government climate crimes in the tar sands and demand change.
  • Educating shareholders: We meet with Canadian and international shareholders in oil companies and discuss the investment risks associated with the tar sands.
  • Working with impacted communities: We reach out to landowners and First Nations affected by the tar sands and stand in solidarity with them.

The latest updates

 

Fame Drain, Toxic Relationships & more!

Feature story | December 5, 2011 at 9:00

Greenpeace’s GP In Touch uses humour and a little star power to bring home a big point. Fact is, the ridiculously cozy relationship between our publicly elected officials and the private oil industry is a scandal worthy of the trashiest gossip rags.

It’s time to Draw the Line at the tar sands – Add your voice!

Blog entry by Hilary Tam | December 2, 2011 1 comment

We’ve heard from lots of people who’ve had it with the reckless expansion of the tar sands. And while we love to hear their personal stories about why they want to “draw the line” at the tar, we thought it’d be much more interesting to...

Tutu Calls on Canada to be a Climate Leader

Blog entry by Tzeporah Berman & Monica Davies | December 2, 2011

The advert that appeared in numerous Canadian newspapers this week, condemning Canada's weak position against climate change and its proximity to big oil companies.   During the COP17 climate talks earlier in the week, it was...

First Nations reaffirm commitment to stop tar sands pipeline and tankers on...

Blog entry by Melina Laboucan-Massimo | December 1, 2011

December 1 st marks the one-year anniversary of the signing of the Save the Fraser Declaration . Today in Vancouver the Yinka Dene Alliance is holding a press conference to commemorate the precedent-setting declaration, which took...

EXPOSED: Canada's secret tar sands lobbying of UK ministers

Blog entry by petespeller | November 28, 2011

View of smoke plumes emitted from the Syncrude upgrader plant north of Fort McMurray. Credit: Jiri Rezac / Greenpeace Documents obtained by The Cooperative and Friends of the Earth Europe through Freedom of...

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