A new Greenpeace report details how the world’s addiction to oil is increasing the threat the Alberta tar sands pose to the global climate.
Greenpeace has released the report, "Dirty Oil: How the tar sands are fueling the global climate crisis," in advance of the meeting Wednesday between Prime Minister Harper and President Obama to highlight how continued escalation in the Alberta tar sands operations is leading the world to climate chaos. Currently, the majority of tar sands oil is exported to the United States.
"This report is an important addition to the debate on the environmental threats of the tar sands," said Mike Hudema, Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner. "The analysis connects the dots and shows how the tar sands are at the leading edge of climate destruction."
Greenpeace commissioned the report from Andrew Nikiforuk, a respected journalist and the author of the award-winning book: "Tar Sands: Dirty oil and the Future of a Continent."
A key insight from the report is that government revenue from the tar sands revenue and oil industry lobbying have made Canada "a global carbon bully." As a result, Canada has actively fought standards to lower the carbon content of fuels, lobbied against US legislation to lower emissions, muzzled federal scientists and obstructed international climate change negotiations.
"The rapid development of bitumen, an extreme and inferior hydrocarbon that resembles asphalt, has changed the political character of Canada and now threatens to prime the global community for a volatile and dangerous scramble on energy and climate," said Andrew Nikiforuk.
Key highlights from the report:
- Due to their extreme energy intensity, the tar sands have a higher carbon footprint than any other commercial oil product on the planet. Some projects are now 10 times dirtier than production of oil in the North Sea.
- Tar sands development 'cannibalizes' Canada's natural gas production. Enough natural gas to heat millions of homes is used every day for tar sands operations.
- Greenhouse gas emissions from the tar sands could grow to between 127 and 140 million tonnes by 2020, exceeding the current emissions of Austria, Portugal, Ireland, Denmark and likely Belgium.
- Canada does not report life-cycle emissions from the tar sands in a transparent way. Data are incomplete and inaccessible.
- Tar sands revenue and oil industry lobbying have made Canada "a global carbon bully." Canada has actively fought standards to lower the carbon content of fuels, lobbied against US legislation to lower emissions, muzzled federal scientists and obstructed international climate change negotiations.
Through its KYOTOplus campaign, Greenpeace is working to convince the Canadian government to play a leadership role in Copenhagen in December at the United Nations climate conference, the most important climate negotiations in history. :
Download a copy of the report.
Read the backgrounder