Former President Jimmy Carter and other Nobel Prize winners signed a letter to President Obama urging him to reject the Keystone Pipeline. Prime Minister Harper’s office responded quickly, citing the many arguments in favour of Keystone that its supporters have presented over the past three years.
This response also referred to the problems of oil supply that followed on the Iranian crisis of 1979, a factor contributing to President Carter’s defeat in 1980.
According to the response, this experience emphasized the importance of Canada to the US as a reliable and politically stable supplier of fossil fuels.
This general statement neglects two facts about US energy self-sufficiency: first, in 2013 the US achieved a level of energy self-sufficiency not reached since 1987 (84.5 % of the country’s energy requirements were supplied domestically), and secondly, Canada is and will continue to be a reliable supplier of conventional fossil fuels to the US, whether Keystone is rejected or not.
What neither the world nor the US needs is tar sands bitumen! Instead there must be a rapidly increasing replacement of fossil fuel energy by energy from renewable sources. That way GHG emissions can be reduced.
On that score there is an obvious fact that needs statement: GHG emissions in US decreased over three percent in 2012. Canada’s emissions decreased by only a negligible fraction in 2012, despite considerable efforts by Provinces to reduce emissions. The real factor in Canada’s dismal performance is the great increase in emissions from the tar sands.
Limit the total emissions from production of tar sands bitumen and Canada has at least a small chance of reaching its Copenhagen targets.