Developing Tar Sands could cost Canada greenhouse gas emissions

Ian Campbell
News 660
Date published: 
Tue, 2011-08-09
Cutting back on greenhouse gas emissions could prove a challenge in the coming years and Alberta is getting a large chunk of the blame.

A new report from Environment Canada predicts over the next nine years, any gains made in reducing the country's carbon output will be cancelled out thanks to rising emissions from the oilsands.

Emission levels from developing the resource are expected to rise to 62 megatonnes, tripling 2005 numbers.

Most of the gains from oil production are expected to come from new scientific methods designed to boost levels of crude.

Electrical generators, on the other hand, will decrease their levels by 31 per cent, thanks to the decommissioning of things like coal-fired power plants.

Sierra Club President John Bennett says he's not surprised by the findings.

"If we allow the oilsands production to double and double and double, which is what the industry wants to do, it's going to have a tremendous impact," he says.

Bennett says people's attitudes about being dependent on oil need to change and he's hoping these new statistics could be the catalyst.

But Bob Tippee, editor of Oil and Gas Journal, says he's not a big fan of studies like this, adding the formula used needs work.

"The industry can't predict what it's going to do because it doesn't know what market and technical conditions are going to be in the future," Tippee says.  "Those trends that are projected now in studies like this are not going to be straight lines."

He calls it a "political issue," adding Albertans and Canadians have to indicate whether they want to hinge their future on a static formula that may not be reliable.

The study shows national emissions are expected to rise across several sectors, including transportation, buildings and agriculture, by 54 per cent.

By 2020, Canada is expected to exceed its carbon output targets by 178 megatonnes.


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