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In a recent National Observer articleBarry Saxifrage points out the obvious: Alberta’s Tar Sands expansion is killing Canada’s national climate goals.

Carbon pollution from oilsands expansion is radically undermining Canada’s plan to fight climate change. On the present course, almost everything else in Canada would have to shut down for the country to meet its climate change targets ~ Barry Saxifrage.

The Canadian Way

Canadians have a reputation of coming together during a crisis. We support victims of natural disasters, like the Fort McMurray wildfire of 2016, and of untimely accidents such as Lac Megantic, Quebec (July 2013), and just days ago in Humboldt, Saskatchewan (bus crash). The mantra of “we’re all in this together” is a familiar rallying cry for Canada’s communities.

And as we face the growing climate crisis, all of us in Canada – individuals, communities, cities, provinces, businesses, corporations – have to do our share to combat the warming of the planet. We all have to learn to live within our carbon budget.

As a signatory to the Paris Agreement, Canada has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent of its 2005 levels by 2030. But one province threatens to kill all of Canada’s climate goals by refusing to do its share of the heavy lifting. Alberta is being very un-Canadian.

Alberta is Killing Canada’s Climate Targets

Alberta’s Tar Sands Expansion Is Killing Canada’s National Climate Goals, Below2C

Credit:  Flickr: tar sands, Alberta, Wikipedia Commons

The following pie charts illustrate how Alberta is consuming a disproportionate share of the country’s emissions targets. Alberta makes up 11.6% of Canada’s population but it produces a whopping 37.5% of our GHG emissions. By comparison, Ontario is the most populous province with 38.3% of the population but only 23.3% of Canada’s GHGs.


Source of pie charts: Population by Wikipedia, 2016 census. Emissions – Environment Canada: National Inventory Report to IPCC 

Saxifrage brilliantly illustrates in this graph that the tarsands/oilsands’ share of Canada’s climate targets is shooting up wildly. Our national pollution budget is “being eaten up by climate pollution from Alberta’s oilsands industry,” he writes.

Under Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan, the tarsands will be allowed to expand by an additional 60% by 2030 and will constitute a full 22% of Canada’s entire Paris Agreement target. And it gets much worse. It will be a lopsided 78% of Canada’s 2050 target.

Trudeau would like Canadians to believe him when he says that the environment and the economy go together. But the facts show that the economy and oil industry interests always come first in Trudeau’s mind. A recent labour market report projects large workforce reductions in the oil and gas industry brought about by increased productivity, technological improvements and automation, somewhat diffusing the economic argument that thousands of new jobs will be created.

Loopholes and Exemptions

The Alberta climate plan includes a 100 Mt Hard Cap but it is set too high and includes gaping loopholes. Exemptions to the cap include primary oil production, climate emissions from electricity cogeneration, enhanced recovery, experimental processes, upgraders and any emissions that take place in Saskatchewan.

As reported in The Mix, the Canadian and Alberta governments are now exploring ways of exempting many new tar sands projects from review under the new environmental assessment rules just announced, making a mockery of what was meant to replace a broken regulatory process. “It’s just appalling,” said Oil Change International Senior Advisor Adam Scott, in an interview with DeSmog Canada. “There’s no other way to say it.”

What’s Left for the Rest of Canada?

Alberta’s gluttonous appetite for Tar Sands expansion is becoming increasingly unsupportable by Canadians living outside Alberta and also by Albertans who have a growing concern for the future of our children and grandchildren, an invocation often used by Catherine McKenna in her public statements about the need to act on the climate.

Whereas the rest of Canada is attempting to do its part to reach our national climate goals, Alberta, supported by Prime Minister Trudeau, is pursuing a climate policy that allows for a massive expansion of oilsands — the nation’s number one polluter. And so, as 4.1 million Albertans consume our country’s climate budget — our Paris goals and obligations — should we expect the other 31.1 million Canadians to pick up the slack? Should non-Albertans allow such a disproportionate distribution of climate obligations? Are we going to allow one industry in one province to sabotage our climate aspirations?

The answer is NO.

At the time of writing this post, the Prime Minister and his Cabinet are meeting to discuss ways to force the Kinder Morgan pipeline through. Trudeau insists that the pipeline will be built in spite of mounting opposition from Indigenous groups, environmentalists, climate activists and the province of British Columbia.

Justin Trudeau has backed himself into a corner and his credibility is in question. And unfortunately, desperate politicians take desperate measures.

Articles which are related:
Massive Gap Between Canada’s Emissions Projections And Paris Targets
Why Canada’s Climate Plan Can’t Be Traded For Kinder Morgan
Show Us The Science On Kinder Morgan Mr. Trudeau

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