What a busy - and ironic - week of meetings we are coming to the end of right now. It kicked off with 100 heads of state and government at the UN headquarters in New York, and has now moved on to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - host of the G20 meeting. But what about that 'other meeting'? Head north from Pittsburgh, hang a left and you get to Edmonton, Alberta - host to the 'Oil Tar Sands Trade Show and Conference'. That 'other meeting'.

While the likes of President Obama, Hu Jingtao, and Kofi Annan talked climate rescue in New York - up in Calgary the Oil Sands conference was discussing - well, oil sands development - also known as the total opposite of climate rescue. This is where the week takes an ironic turn.


The same day that Greenpeace activists unfurled 'Danger: climate destruction ahead' in Pittsburgh to start off the G20 - the oil sands conference attendees were treated to a talk about how to better greenwash their dirty tar sands oil. (What degree of dirty are we talking about here? We are talking: pumping 100 million tonnes [Correction!] approximately 100.000 tonnes of carbon into the air - that's 36 million tonnes per year - and leaching 11 million litres of toxic sludge per day kind of dirty.)

This week was the battle of the meetings. And they seem to be in a deadlock - with both the potential good guys and the (already destroying our climate) bad guys dropping the ball. We didn't see much in the way of climate leadership from our so-called world leaders this week. While at the 'other meeting' tar sands conference attendees are kicking themselves for letting the cat out of the bag about the entire industry being a big, ugly climate crime. We helped them let that cat out though:


"Wake up, people!" The Oil Tar Sands conference was told by Alberta's former energy minister Pat Nelson. According to Nelson the tar sands industry needs to 'bring it' - and what needs to be 'brought' is a bunch of greenwash which would include flapping about: "some progress it's made in reducing emissions, oil extraction technologies that step more lightly on the boreal forest, and ongoing efforts to reclaim exploited lands." (*My italics = weak, weak lip service PR nonsense)

Any publicity efforts the tar sands industry attempts can't hide the reality of continued tar sands development. Emissions that are pushing us towards runaway climate change. The total destruction of boreal forest. The decimation and poisoning of one of the largest fresh water basins in the world.

Starting a tar sands Facebook fan page (yes - the tar sands industry might take their greenwash to the online social networks) isn't going to erase images like these:

Tweeting about 'some progress', or 'stepping more lightly' on the boreal forest, or 'ongoing efforts' to cover their tracks doesn't hide the kilometres and kilometres (or miles and miles for our US friends) of hellish landscapes they've created. Anyone with Google Earth can see the scale of it for themselves by zooming in on the areas to the north of Fort McMurray, Alberta.

The week isn't over yet - meaning the battle of the meetings (UN & G20 vs The Oil Tar Sands Trade Show) isn't over either - but we already know that no one is winning. Not our climate, not our planet, not all of us who will have to live with the consequences of the climate change that tar sands development is helping to fuel.

Pat Nelson is right. People need to wake up. The G20 needs to wake up. We need climate leadership - in the tar sands and beyond - desperately.

[You can learn more about our campaign to Stop the Tar Sands, follow the week's developments on Twitter by keeping track of #g20 and #climateweek, and cap it all off by putting your name on the petition that is demanding climate leadership THEN phoning your very own leader and making sure they know that you're awake, and you'd like them to wake up too.]