Canada has a responsibility to report national GHG emissions to the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). For some reason Canada’s report for the year 2008 did not identify GHG emissions attributable to the tar sands exploitation and operation, although those emissions were included in the overall Canadian totals. Critics of the Government suggested at the time that the failure to itemize tar sands emissions was motivated by a desire to keep the tar sands out of the spotlight of public opinion.
Canada’s 2009 Report to the IPCC, finally released after the May federal election, did contain the tar sands emissions, which grew by 40% between 2005 and 2009. Canada’s overall emissions fell by 6% in 2009, a result of plant closures due to the economic recession, and a lessened reliance on coal.
This summer the Canadian Government intends to introduce new rules for large industrial emitters, including refineries and oil sands upgraders. Shawn McCarthy, the Globe and Mail Global Energy Reporter, notes that these rules may be a response to US criticisms of the tar sands. The attitude of the US is critical, as the TransCanada’s Keystone Pipeline Project is key to the marketing of tar sands crude through US Gulf of Mexico refineries. The US Environmental Protection Agency considers that the present information provided on this Project contains insufficient information on its environmental impacts to justify a decision approving the Pipeline Project.
McCarthy also reports that Canada is meeting resistance in European countries who are against the tar sands. If so, then the negative publicity created by the criticisms of the tar sands by the Norwegian Grandparents appears to be well timed. Go to the FOG blog on the subject for comments pro and con.
The most recent conference of Federal and Provincial Energy Ministers (July 2011) appears to have focused primarily on the need to develop export markets for oil produced from the tar sands. This prompted the following comment by Ed Whittingham, executive director of The Pembina Institute, environmental think-tank.
“Non-renewable, high-carbon sources of energy are by their very nature unsustainable. Canada needs to plan for a transition away from depending on exports of such sources, like the oilsands.”
Also read these Comments by Jim Hansen on the occasion of the Tar Sands Protest at the White House. Hansen put the matter of the tar sands in these graphic terms:
“George Bush confessed our addiction to oil. Taking tar sands oil amounts to borrowing a dirty needle from a neighbor addict”