Coal trumps oilsands as climate change culprit

Emissions from Canada's oilsands are unlikely to make a large contribution to global warming compared to the burning of coal, says a leading climate change researcher.

Andrew Weaver, a University of Victoria climate modeller who was lead author on two reports from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and colleague Neil Stewart analyzed how the burning of all global stocks of coal, oil and natural gas would affect temperatures.

The results were published Sunday in the journal Nature and reported by Canadian Press:

They found that if all the hydrocarbons in the oilsands were mined and consumed, the carbon dioxide released would raise global temperatures by about .36 degrees C. That's about half the total amount of warming over the last century.

In contrast, the paper concludes that burning all the globe's vast coal deposits would create a 15-degree increase in temperature. Burning all the abundant natural gas would warm the planet by more than three degrees.