Oil sands expansion and carbon reduction policies are mutually exclusive: report

Oil sands expansion and carbon reduction policies are mutually exclusive: reportCanada will have to set a limit to the planned expansion of its oil sands if the country wants to meet its international commitment to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, show a study released just days before a climate summit that kicks off Tuesday in Quebec.

According to the paper, released by Environmental Defence and Greenpeace Canada — two Toronto-based groups — if Ottawa is serious about cutting the nation’s emissions, it must take a fresh look to its oil sands sector.

Using data from Environment Canada’s National Inventory Report, the report argues that while greenhouse gas emissions grew nation-wide by 18% between 1990 and 2012, Alberta accounted for 73% of the total net increase.

The study claims that the most effective measure Canada could take to address the growth in greenhouse gas emissions would be to put the brakes on oil sands expansion.

Three provinces combined

Under Environment Canada’s projections by 2020 Alberta’s emissions would be roughly equal to Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia combined.

“Essentially, one province with 11% of the population, driven by an industry representing just 2% of Canada’s GDP, would have levels of carbon pollution that are 93% of emissions in the rest of the country,” the report says. “That’s not a scenario that reflects any notion of fairness.”

Canada’s commitment is to reduce carbon emissions to 17% below 2005 levels by 2020. If oil sands growth proceeds unchecked, the other provinces and territories will have to cut their emissions by 30%, the report concludes.