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The tar sands and climate change

Alberta’s tar sands produce some of the world’s dirtiest oil - 3-4 times as much greenhouse gas emissions per barrel as the production of regular crude oil.

Thanks to the rapidly rising emissions from the tar sands, upstream oil and gas is now the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada. The tar sands alone spew out more CO2 than all the cars in the country combined.

Largest dirty energy expansion

The tar sands also represent a global threat. According to research by Ecofys, commissioned by Greenpeace International, Canada’s tar sands ranked fifth of the 14th largest carbon intensive projects in the world.

Pipelines map 2014


Tailings Ponds at the Alberta Tar Sands

Landlocked in northern Alberta, the tar sands needs access to tidewater via pipelines to allow further expansion and to reach markets in Asia, Europe, USA, etc.. Railway and truck capacity is far too limited to replace pipelines.

Former UN Climate chief Christiana Figueres summarized the work of the scientists on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change when she said, “three quarters of the (world’s) fossil fuel reserves need to stay in the ground” in order to have a good chance to stabilize the planet’s climate. That means many tar sands projects can simply never be built if humanity is to have a good chance of avoiding catastrophe and Canada is to do its part to address the growing climate crisis.

 

 

 

 

Not your average oil

Spills will happen – it’s just a matter of when and where. Alberta already averages more than one spill per day. The tar sands produce a heavy form of crude oil that has to be diluted with toxic chemicals, heated and pressurized in order to flow. When a tar sands pipeline spills, the toxic chemicals threaten human health and the spill is nearly impossible to clean up because unlike conventional oil, bitumen sinks in water. Enbridge has spent more than one billion dollars trying to clean up its 2010 tar sands spill in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Toxic tar sands oil remains in the environment.

A dead, oil-soaked muskrat lies next to the Kalamzoo River

 

When diluted tar sands oil spills into water, the condensate evaporates, creating a toxic, carcinogenic cloud. Most of the heavy bitumen remains and can sink, coating the bottom of the lake or river with thick goo, making it much more difficult to clean up than a conventional oil spill. 

 

The latest updates

 

Being on the sidelines is no longer tenable: My first volunteer action with Greenpeace

Blog entry by Pat Smith | December 13, 2017

I’m sixty five years old. I don’t exactly fit the stereotype you might have of a Greenpeace volunteer. My whole life I’ve been outspoken and railed against injustice, but always from behind the scenes. It’s been more usual and...

Bonn Climate Conference: True climate leadership still missing

Blog entry by Daniel Mittler | November 20, 2017

The world is moving ahead without Trump - but not as fast and decisively as needed. Another round of climate negotiations is over. And, like last year, President Trump has failed to stop the  global climate talks from moving...

We Projected a Giant Hologram Outside TD Bank’s Headquarters

Blog entry by Keith Stewart, Senior Energy Campaigner | November 17, 2017

In the early hours of this morning, we brought frontline Indigenous voices right to TD bank’s headquarters in Toronto. We created a spectacle no bank manager could miss: a giant hologram projection calling on TD to stop...

Transport Canada memo: Need zero-emissions vehicle mandate for deep GHG reductions

Blog entry by Keith Stewart | November 13, 2017

Canada joined Mexico and some U.S. states today at the climate conference in Bonn to announce a new North American Climate Leadership Dialogue that will, amongst other things, look at the potential of zero-emission vehicles to reduce...

Pipeline builder Kinder Morgan prefers to beg forgiveness rather than ask for permission

Blog entry by Keith Stewart | November 2, 2017

The company behind the controversial Trans Mountain Expansion pipeline is warning that the project needs to be exempted from rules governing environmental permits or it might not get built . In September, the company took an...

In the Pipeline: Risks for Funders of Tar Sands Pipelines

Publication | October 30, 2017 at 20:07

Three major new tar sands pipeline projects are proposed: Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Expansion, TransCanada’s Keystone XL and Enbridge’s Line 3 expansion.

New data: Canadian oil companies pay higher rates of taxation abroad than at home

Blog entry by Keith Stewart | October 26, 2017

Canada’s debate over tax fairness just got more interesting. This year marks the first time that Canadian resource companies are required (under the  Extractive Sector Transparency Measures Act  , or ESTMA) to publish what they pay...

“No More Pipelines!”

Blog entry by Katya Nikitenko, Greenpeace Switzerland | October 25, 2017

This week, 23-25th of October are global days of action. Around the globe water and land protectors and activists are standing up. They are uniting against the big banks financing fossil fuel corporations and projects which violate...

Whether by land or by sea resistance to tar sands pipeline continues to grow.

Blog entry by Mike Hudema | October 21, 2017 1 comment

As three tar sands pipelines (Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain, Enbridge Line 3, and TransCanada Keystone XL) try to press forward the resistance to them is rising up, growing and taking action by land and by sea. This week as...

World’s 8th largest banks says it won’t finance tar sands pipelines

Blog entry by Keith Stewart | October 16, 2017

There was some great news out of France this week, as BNP Paribas, the largest bank in France and 8th largest in the world, publicly stated that it will cut ties with tar sands pipelines and the companies behind them. ...

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