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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

 

Why Harper’s Kyoto Pullout Is a Death Sentence for Many of World’s Most Vulnerable

Blog entry by Mike Hudema | December 13, 2011

For a vulnerable country like Tuvalu, its an act of sabotage on our future. —Ian Fry, Tuvalu lead negotiator Yesterday I commented that the Harper government pulling out of Kyoto is essentially a death sentence on vulnerable...

Harper government Kyoto withdrawal issues death sentence to world's most vulnerable

Blog entry by Christine Leclerc | December 12, 2011

Environment Minister Peter Kent, just back from COP17 in Durban, has announced Canada's pulling out of the Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol is a cornerstone of international climate negotiations and plays a key role in addressing the...

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...

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