While Canada is one of the richest countries in the world, it has one of the worst records when it comes to taking action on climate change:
- Canada ranks first among G8 nations for increasing emissions.
- Canada ranks 54th out of 60 on the 2012 Climate Change Performance Index.
- Canada is by far the biggest defaulter on its Kyoto climate commitments. Emissions, rather than decreasing, have shot up. By 2009, they were 24% above 1990 emission levels. In 2011, Canada became the first signatory from the rich world to withdraw from Kyoto.
T A R S A N D S M A D N E S S
Tar sands development is Canada’s fastest growing source of emissions. To protect the tar sands industry from being adversely effected by climate change policy, Canada engaged in obstructionist tactics at the 2011 international climate change conference in Durban, South Africa. These tactics led to Canada being dishonoured with the Fossil of the Year award–for the fifth year running! They also help to keep the world on the path to catastrophic global warming.
THE TRUTH ABOUT TAR SANDS
- Tar sands production generates as much as 20% more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional oil. It accounts for 5% of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions.
- It takes 3–7 barrels of water to produce a single barrel of oil. That’s between 230–530 million cubic metres a year.
- Enough natural gas is used in the tar sands every day to heat 3.2 million Canadian homes for 24 hours.
- The tar sands generate 6,500 barrels of toxic waste every day. This waste is stored in massive tailings ponds along the Athabasca River. These ponds of toxic sludge are so poisonous that birds which accidentally land on them die instantly.
These toxic ponds leak into the Athabasca River at a rate of 11 million litres a day. The river’s levels of toxic chemicals, including arsenic and cyanide, are steadily rising.
At Fort Chipewyan, a downstream First Nations community, the increase in cancer is 30% higher than in other communities.
In the tar sands region, workers and local residents breathe in pollutant emissions, including sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and benzene. In 2009, tar sands companies breached Alberta’s air pollution targets 1,556 times or more than 4 times every day.
The federal government subsidizes the tar sands industry to the tune of $1.3 billion per year.
P I P E L I N E F O L L Y
Two pipelines have been planned to expand Canadian tar sands exports. One, Trans-Canada’s Keystone XL pipeline, would carry tar sands oil from Alberta to oil refineries in Texas. The other, Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline, would carry it to the BC coast for shipment to Asia. The Canadian government supports both projects.
A major concern of those opposed to the pipelines is land and water contamination resulting from pipeline leaks. Although both companies claim their pipelines are safe, both have had many leaks–over 800 since 1999 for Enbridge.
An even greater concern is further expansion of Alberta tar sands, the source of the world’s dirtiest oil. In the view of NAsA climate scientist, James Hansen, if we don’t want to initiate the final overheating of the planet, we must leave the tar sands in the ground.
- Thanks to the work of Tar Sands Action, the Keystone XL pipeline is now on hold, possibly permanently.
- The Northern Gateway pipeline is currently undergoing an environmental impact review by the National Energy Board.
The Harper government has launched a smear campaign against those opposed to the Northern Gateway pipeline, saying they are radicals, uninformed, and ideologically motivated, and characterizing them as unpatriotic. The government’s aim is to hijack the review process.
MORE DIRTY TACTICS
Franke James is a Canadian environmental artist and author. Last year, James was scheduled to receive government funding for a 20-city climate change art exhibition in Europe. However, the money was later withdrawn and the exhibition cancelled.
Through access to information, James obtained documents showing that Canadian officials had advised the exhibition’s organizers to cancel the show, saying her art runs counter to Canadian interests.
View Franke James quirky, funny, brilliant, educational, and empowering art work at: www.frankejames.com