diry-oil1Timed with perfection to undermine the meeting between Canada’s Premier Stephen Harper and Barack Obama, Greenpeace has issued a new report labelling Canada as a “climate change bully” that is doing everything in its power to undermine a new agreement at Copenhagen.

Tomorrow will be the second meeting between the two leaders, who are expected to discuss the contradicting issues of expanded extraction from the tar sands as well as commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the upcoming crucial Copenhagen Summit.

This contradiction is played out in the figures: Canada’s greenhouse emissions have increased by more than 26 per cent since 1990. But Canada’s goal is to reduce emissions by 20 per cent from 2006 levels by 2020, a target that in itself far short of what Canada must do to combat climate change. But the emissions from tar sands will mean that this target will not be met.

So Obama cannot have it both ways – he cannot talk green yet crank up America’s imports of this dirty, dangerous oil whose development “could tip the scales toward dangerous and uncontrollable climate change.”

Startling statistics are that the tar sands – the most energy intensive oil there is – now produce 1.3 million barrels of heavy oil a day and supply the US, the world’s largest oil consumer, with 13 per cent of its crude imports. That share could grow to 37 per cent.

Obama cannot let this happen, if he cares about climate change, as he says he does.

The new report, called Dirty Oil: How The Tar Sands Are Fuelling the Global Climate Crisis, “shows how the tar sands are at the leading edge of climate destruction,” argues Mike Hudema, from Greenpeace.

If exploitation of the tar sands continues unabated, by 2020 it could produce more greenhouse gas emissions than either Austria, Portugal, Ireland or Denmark. The project’s CO2 output could even rival or exceed that of Belgium, a nation of 10 million people.

Regular blog readers will know that the extraction of oil from tar sands is much more energy-intensive than other oil extraction operations, meaning that “the tar sands have a higher carbon footprint than any other commercial oil product on the planet.” The report argues that “Some products are now 10 times dirtier than production of oil in the North Sea”.

At the same time as leading this climate kamikaze raid, Canada has been singled out by leading scientists as “blocking the progress” towards an agreement at Copenhagen. The report argues that “to many international observers, Canada’s objections to effective
action simply mirror the selfish interests of a power tar sands lobby that wants to accelerate oil exports.”

The report goes on to show that briefing documents recently prepared by Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs propose that Canada try to split members of the EU on their greenhouse gas commitments, backpedal on reduction targets and tie any assistance to developing nations to binding targets.

And for those proponents of carbon capture and storage CCS, the report issues a warning that “unproven, band-aid technologies, such as carbon capture and storage (CCS), will not reduce emissions from the tar sands on any significant scale in the near future. Neither peak oil nor the carbon crisis, flip sides of the same coin, can be solved with more energy inputs.”

Tar sands: an issue more complicated than health care, Mr. Obama….