The bitumen sands and global decarbonization


in Canada, Economics, Politics, The environment

Still, even if it was not recognized in many boardrooms in Calgary or anywhere else in the industry, oil’s dominance could no longer be taken for granted. Climate change was not readily managed like the sludge in a single tailings pond or contained like the mess from a single pipeline spill. This was a more profound challenge to the industry’s story of progress — perhaps an existential one. In the years after Shell unveiled its two scenarios, environmental activists began to stand in opposition to one new fossil fuel project after another, and bankers and investors started to ask industry executives tough questions about whether their reserves represented future profits or “stranded assets.” And starting with the proposed Keystone XL project, a major new pipeline that intended to carry Alberta’s bitumen from a storage terminal on the prairie south of Fort McMurray to the Gulf of Mexico, the oil sands became the front line in a larger conflict. In the story of progress being told with climate change at its centre, the world had no choice but to move as quickly as possible toward an economy free of greenhouse gas emissions. For a variety of reasons connected only tangentially to the daily operations of an oil sands site — American political considerations and universal symbolic impact, in particular — the elimination of the Patch’s daily ration of the world’s oil supply came to be seen as the essential first step in this decarbonization process.

Turner, Chris. The Patch: The People, Pipelines and Politics of the Oil Sands. Simon & Schuster, 2017. p. 15–6

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. November 22, 2017 at 12:28 pm

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