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

 

A dark day for the dirty energy

Blog entry by Keith Stewart | October 4, 2011 1 comment

Spare a brief moment of pity for the people trying to make a profit off of polluting the planet because today was an all-too-rare bad day for them. First, an astroturf (fake grassroots) campaign to slam green energy and promote coal...

Hundreds gather on Parliament Hill to tell Harper ‘No to Tar Sands’

Feature story | September 26, 2011 at 10:23

(Ottawa) – Hundreds of people from across North America are gathered this morning on Parliament Hill for a rally followed by a mass civil disobedience sit-in. Participants are responding to a call to action for a large peaceful protest where many...

Dear Oprah...

Blog entry by Hilary | September 22, 2011 1 comment

Dear Oprah, As one of the most powerful and influential people in the world and the only living woman to make a list of people who have changed the world, you must possess a strong personal interest and social responsibility when...

The World’s Biggest Carbon Bomb

Blog entry by Rex Weyler | September 21, 2011 2 comments

Deep Green is Rex Weyler's monthly column, reflecting on the roots of activism, environmentalism, and Greenpeace's past, present, and future. The opinions here are his own. And the fuses that threaten to set it off Three long...

Tears can’t turn back the rising oceans: Action can.

Blog entry by mhudema | September 15, 2011 4 comments

Tears can’t turn back the rising oceans: Action can. My eyes welled up with tears and anger when I read the latest report from the Maldives’ Environment Minister Mohamed Aslam. He painted a very clear picture of the urgency...

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