News Articles Featured | Marc Huot | Pembina | December 04, 2012
Tis the season for evaluating Canada’s progress on climate change, and now that we’re in the second week of global climate talks in Doha, Qatar, the oilsands are once again drawing fire as Canada’s main climate culprit.
Some may argue this label is unfair, but there’s one big reason that oilsands development deserves to be at the centre of any serious effort to meet Canada’s climate commitments: while other sectors are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 67 megatonnes (Mt) by 2020 (relative to 2005 levels), oilsands expansion is expected to add 72 Mt of carbon pollution to the atmosphere in the same time frame. (This comes from Environment Canada’s assumption that oilsands production will reach 3.3 million barrels per day by 2020).
In other words, the projected growth in oilsands emissions over the rest of this decade will basically cancel out the emissions reductions that all other sectors in Canada expect to achieve (see chart below), leaving Canada on course to achieve only 50 per cent of its 2020 climate target.
Without the growth in emissions from oilsands expansion, Canada’s emissions would be shrinking. As it stands now, Ottawa expects Canada’s emissions to fall 113 Mt short of the targeted level in 2020 with current policies. To put this into perspective, 113 Mt is double the current emissions of the entire province of British Columbia (56 Mt), or significantly more than the current emissions of every power plant in Canada put together (99 Mt).
That means cutting emissions from oilsands development has to be a top priority if Canada is going to do its fair share to tackle climate change.