The Pembina Institute – in cooperation with Environmental Defence and Equiterre – has released a new report on Canada’s oilsands. It concludes that even with optimistic assumptions about carbon capture and storage, greenhouse gas emissions from the oil sands are set to be unacceptably large by 2050, making Canada’s climate change mitigation targets infeasible:
A key finding of the report is that the math on carbon emissions doesnâ€™t add up. If expansion of the oil sands proceeds as planned, the oil sands industry will outspend its proportional share of Canadaâ€™s carbon budget under the governmentâ€™s current target by a factor of 3.5 times by 2020 and by nearly 40 times by 2050, even assuming very optimistic application of carbon capture and storage technologies. The oil sands sector must do its fair share to reach the federal governmentâ€™s commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, or other sectors of the economy will be asked to shoulder the extra burden.
The report calls for oil sands operations to be subject to a carbon price, which would be applied equally across the economy.
The report does not particularly stress the sheer size of the fossil fuel reserve embedded in the oil sands, which may actually be the biggest problem from a climate change perspective.