Petro-states exhibit certain common traits. A willingness to freely and repeatedly lie and deceive is one of them.
This, however, isn't about lying. This is about a mistake, an honest mistake, many absolutely honest mistakes. This is about coincidence on an industry-wide scale.
The mistake concerns Tar Sands emissions reported by the energy giants to the federal government. It concerns emissions that were, gasp, under-reported, again and again. An honest mistake, repeated across the board.
A number of major oilsands operations in northern Alberta seem to be emitting significantly more carbon pollution than companies have been reporting, newly published research from federal scientists suggests, which could have profound consequences for government climate-change strategies.
The researchers, mainly from Environment Canada, calculated emissions rates for four major oilsands surface mining operations using air samples collected in 2013 on 17 airplane flights over the area.
In results published today in the journal Nature Communications, the scientists say the air samples from just those surface mining operations suggest their carbon dioxide emissions are 64 per cent higher, on average, than what the companies themselves report to the federal government using the standard United Nations reporting framework for greenhouse gases.
It means that Canada's total greenhouse gas emissions would be around 2.3 per cent higher than previously thought. And if research eventually shows that other oilsands sites are subject to similar underreporting issues, Canada's overall greenhouse gas emissions could be as much as six per cent more than thought — throwing a wrench into the calculations that underpin government emissions strategies.Of all the "honest mistakes" not one was for over-reporting emissions. They were all under-reported emissions, just a wild coincidence. Besides, anyone can be out a titch or two here or there. There's a 13 per cent titch and a 36 per cent titch, a titch at 38 per cent and even a 123 per cent titch for Syncrude.
The gap between the facilities' reported carbon dioxide emissions and the levels calculated by researchers was 13 per cent for the Suncor site, 36 per cent for the Horizon mine, 38 per cent for Jackpine and 123 per cent for Syncrude.
Left out of the study, notably, are emissions from all oilsands operations that use in-situ extraction, pumping steam into the ground to get the petroleum out. About 80 per cent of oilsands reserves, and the majority of current production, require in-situ extraction.
That means the overall amount of underreported greenhouse gas emissions could be significantly higher.The Oil Patch may be blowing smoke up Justin's backside but others aren't so conveniently fooled.
"Increases in emissions from the tarsands are undoing all the progress being made in other sectors," said Keith Stewart, senior energy strategist with Greenpeace Canada, in a statement.
"If we are serious about protecting communities from climate-fueled floods, wildfires and other extreme weather, the last thing Canada should be doing is building new pipelines to expand oil production and exports. Either we act like this truly is a crisis that threatens our health and survival, or we sleepwalk towards disaster. It's as simple as that and our politicians are currently choosing the second option."