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Tar sands

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

Greenpeace is calling the Canadian government to stop the expansion of 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 region. Meanwhile, the thousands of workers brought in by oil companies face the boom and bust cycles of the oil economy rollercoaster.

Tar sands companies want to build new pipelines so that they can expand output in the tar sands. These pipelines would threaten thousands of rivers and streams across the country. The increased tanker traffic required to carry this oil would threaten our coastlines. Oil spills would devastate communities and existing livelihoods that depend on a health environment, while the greenhouse gas emissions from producing and burning the oil would fuel climate change.

We have better alternatives.  

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 and expose the investment risks associated with tar sands development.
  • Working with impacted communities: We reach out to landowners and First Nations affected by the tar sands amplify their voices and stand in solidarity with them.

The latest updates

 

Environment Canada memo echoes First Nation concerns over Shell’s proposed new tar...

Blog entry by Keith Stewart | August 27, 2012 1 comment

An internal memo , prepared for a May 16, 2011 meeting between the President of Shell Canada, Environment Canada’s Deputy Minister and the Deputy Secretary to the Clerk of the Privy Council (obtained by Greenpeace Canada under...

Joe Oliver: Distracted by (media reporting on) science?

Blog entry by Keith Stewart | August 21, 2012 1 comment

Environment Minister Peter Kent is being urged by his department to avoid “distractions” (like misleading media reports on science articles) and focus on “essential” regulations for oilsands companies and other large polluters.  ...

Guest Blog: Sweetgrass and Tar

Blog entry by Eduardo Sousa | August 7, 2012

The following guest blog was written by Jess Housty, a member of the Heiltsuk First Nation, which lies at the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest. It is a powerful account of her experience in participating in the 3rd Annual Tar...

Greenpeace warns premiers: don’t fall for Harper’s Shell game

Feature story | July 23, 2012 at 9:00

As the premiers meet to discuss national energy policy, a new report from Greenpeace Canada released today warns them: don’t look to Ottawa for leadership. “Harper’s Shell Game” uses documents obtained under the Access to Information to argue...

Boreal forest customers send us a letter

Blog entry by Stephanie Goodwin | June 28, 2012

Major customers of Boreal logging companies sent Greenpeace a letter today.  Actually, they sent it to all of us involved in the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement (CBFA), 9 environmental organizations and 19 forest companies operating...

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