Much like the unfunded quarter trillion dollar clean up cost for Athabasca's tailing ponds, the enormity of Tar Sands emissions is never really addressed. Maybe a little bit, but so what, not that bad... Out of sight/out of mind.
Pollution from fossil fuels in Canada continues to grow by staggering amounts, with the oilsands sector alone responsible for more carbon pollution than all of B.C. or Quebec in 2017, says the federal government in its latest climate change report to the United Nations.
The newest edition of Canada’s National Inventory Report, covering data up to two years ago, shows that the oil and gas sector was responsible for 195 million tonnes, or megatonnes (Mt) of greenhouse gas emissions in 2017, up eight Mt from 2016.
The oilsands, a region in Alberta and Saskatchewan that constitute almost all of Canada’s 173 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, generated 81 Mt of pollution in 2017, making up 41 per cent of the sector’s emissions.
That is larger than all the pollution generated by the entire economies of British Columbia that year, at 62 Mt, or Quebec's at 78 Mt. It is also larger than emissions reductions that have been seen in other parts of the country.How Trudeau screwed the pooch.
The NDP government of Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, which was defeated in Tuesday night's provincial election, had promised to set an absolute cap of 100 Mt of carbon pollution from the oilsands. Premier-designate Jason Kenney's United Conservative Party is expected to undo Notley's climate policies, including her cap on oilsands pollution.
But the sector, which has represented about two per cent of Canada's economy according to federal government estimates, was responsible for 400,000 direct and indirect jobs in Alberta in 2016. It has historically opposed proposals to introduce tough national climate change policies.The last thing Canada should be doing is building pipelines.
"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."