The report describes how the federal government’s climate change strategy promotes explosive growth in the tar sands sector. The strategy lets oil companies off the hook — with proposals to:
1. Adopt some of the weakest greenhouse gas targets in the industrialized world.
2. Ignore the recent growth in tar sands emissions.
3. Adopt intensity-based targets instead of hard caps on greenhouse gas pollution, allowing total emissions from the tar sands to keep climbing.
4. Put off critical measures until 2018.
5. Award oil companies hundreds of millions of dollars in credits for meeting targets they have already adopted voluntarily.
6. Low-ball the price of oil and downplay future growth in tar sands emissions.
7. Ignore huge portions of the oil industry’s greenhouse gas pollution.
8. Let oil companies buy their way out at rock-bottom prices instead of forcing them to reduce their own emissions.
9. Subsidize increased tar sands production.
The report talks about the consequences of the race to extract Canada’s dirtiest oil. The tar sands represent one of the world’s most carbon-intensive fuel sources. Tar sands operations produce over 29 million tonnes of greenhouse gas pollution each year, and this is set to escalate, in the absence of strong regulations. Emissions are expected to more than triple by 2020.
Mining the tar sands uses up the same amount of water as a city of two million people, and toxic waste has contaminated the Athabasca River — leading to high levels of cancer for people living downstream.
The federal government’s plan is completely inadequate — it will lead to escalating emissions from the tar sands. We need targets for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, consistent with recommendations of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Economic incentives are needed, including a price on greenhouse gas pollution rising to at least $75 per tonne by 2020.