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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

 

Four Tar Sands Pipelines are Heavily Financed by 25 Key Banks

Blog entry by Tim Donaghy, Greenpeace USA | June 14, 2017 2 comments

Twenty-five banks are the primary sources of credit for the three companies building four pipelines aiming to move Canada’s tar sands to market. Greenpeace is releasing research showing the connections between these banks and the...

Trump abandons the Paris Climate Agreement - How bad is that?

Blog entry by Jennifer Morgan | June 1, 2017

Yes, it’s bad. But the world moves on. Today, US President Trump announced that the US is withdrawing from the Paris Agreement. Time to panic — or not a big deal? We’ve asked Jennifer Morgan — Greenpeace International’s...

My Message to the BC Green Party and NDP

Blog entry by Laura Yates | May 30, 2017 1 comment

Today I scaled the main flagpole at the BC Legislature to deliver a message of celebration and hope to our newly elected officials:   People Power 1 Kinder Morgan 0 Change is coming.     Yesterday, the BC...

STATEMENT - Today's BC NDP-Greens announcement an "exciting opportunity"

Publication | May 30, 2017 at 17:16

30 May 2017 (VICTORIA) - In response to the announcement of the details of the NDP-Green party agreement in British Columbia, the Head of Greenpeace Canada’s Oil Campaign Jessica Wilson said:

Kinder Morgan investors should be prepared to lose their shirts

Blog entry by Keith Stewart | May 29, 2017

In response to concerns raised by Greenpeace, pipeline giant Kinder Morgan has revised the legal document underlying the $1.75 billion share offering that would finance its proposed new tar sands pipeline. Earlier this month, ...

Tell TD to Dump Kinder Morgan

Blog entry by Alex Speers-Roesh | May 5, 2017

TD bank says that it wants to integrate environmental responsibility into every aspect of its business. We think that’s an admirable goal and have written to their CEO in the spirit of helping him achieve that goal. Our basic...

Will Trudeau cave to the oil lobby on limiting methane pollution?

Blog entry by Keith Stewart | April 21, 2017

CBC is reporting that the Trudeau government is about to cave to oil industry pressure and delay implementation of their methane regulation until 2020 (i.e. after the next federal election).  As I detailed in Policy Options , the...

Liberal pro-oil talking points take a hit from new IEA report

Blog entry by Keith Stewart | March 21, 2017

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau got multiple standing ovations from an oil industry crowd in Houston earlier this month, where he told them “As I said on the very first trip to the oil patch back in 2012, no country would find 173...

Indigenous Energy Sovereignty: Beaver Lake Cree Nation's Solar Move

Blog entry by Crystal Lameman | March 15, 2017 1 comment

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples contains many provisions that affirm rights related to the causes, impacts and solutions to climate change and environmental injustices. Indigenous Peoples globally are...

How women are expanding horizons with solar power

Blog entry by Ghalia Fayad | March 8, 2017

Today, on International Women’s Day, the women of Deir Kanoun Ras el Ain cooperative in South Lebanon embarked on a quiet revolution. Together with young activists from Palestine, Lebanon and Syria, they completed a solar energy...

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