You expected President Obama’s visit to Ottawa later today to create quite a stir, but the New President is being bombarded with letters, banners, adverts and interviews all with one message – to back away from Canada’s dirty tar sands.
Obama promised a new kind of politics where he will listen to the voices of the people. If he is listening, it would be very difficult not to get the message.
Message One: Greenpeace activists scaled a bridge in the Canadian capital yesterday and unfurled large banners pointed towards Parliament saying “Climate Leaders Don’t Buy Tar Sands.”
Message Two: A group of 50 prominent Canadians, including numerous politicians, writers and sportsmen, first nations and environmental groups sent Obama an open letter yesterday, entitled: “Green jobs, yes we can. Tar sands, no we can’t”.
The letter read: “As you prepare for your visit, we ask you to recognize the very serious consequences of continued reliance on tar sands oil and the obstacle this presents in moving towards sustainable energy production and consumption in our countries. There are dramatic environmental and social impacts caused by tar sands production”.
But it warned that it be wrong to have much faith in such untried methods, such as carbon, capture and storage, which Obama says could be used to “clean” tar sands. “Costly and unproven technological fixes such as carbon capture and storage do not provide ‘silver bullet’ solutions to addressing emissions from tar sands,” the letter said.
Message Three: A full page advertisement in USA Today highlighting environmental damage wrought by the Alberta oil sands. Environmental group ForestEthics, the Mikisew Cree, and the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nations indigenous communities placed the ad to call attention to the Conservatives’ “flawed climate policy” which they say has been designed to allow tar sands expansion.
In the Ad –see here – it depicts an oil soaked Canada and asks the question: President Obama – You’ll never guess who is standing between us and our new energy economy? Canada’s tar sands: the dirtiest oil on earth.
Message Four: If the President still hadn’t got the message, veteran climate scientist, James Hansen has come out calling tar sands “an environmental wild card. ”
“If we burn all the conventional fuels — oil, gas and coal — we would be heading the planet to eventually an ice-free state,” Hansen said. “This unconventional fossil fuel is a total wild card on top of that,” Hansen said. “You just can’t do it, that’s what politicians and international leaders have got to understand. You can’t exploit tar shale and tar sands without pushing things way beyond the limit. They’re just too carbon intensive.”
If you are listening, Mr President, you will realise that you can’t rely on an unproven technology called carbon, capture and storage to somehow “clean” tar sands.
In short there is no silver bullet.