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Canada's Becoming a 'Global Carbon Bully': Greenpeace

Canada's greenhouse-gas emissions are up 26 per cent since 1990

by Monique Beaudin

MONTREAL - A new report from Greenpeace says oil production in Alberta's tar sands has made Canada into a "global carbon bully."

Sludge spews into a tailings pond at the Syncrude plant site in Fort McMurray, Alta. (Photograph by: Chris Schwarz, CanWest News Service) Little has been done to tackle climate change in Canada, and the federal government has actively tried to block international agreements and laws targeting climate change, says the report, called Dirty Oil: How The Tar Sands Are Fuelling the Global Climate Crisis.

Meanwhile, oilsands projects in northern Alberta are creating more greenhouse-gas emissions (GHGs) per year than several small European countries, and by 2020, will be more than what's produced by Austria or Ireland, the report says.

Continued growth in the oilsands will mean that by 2020, more carbon dioxide will be produced there than by all the volcanoes in the world put together, the report says.

"Canada is now one of the world's leading emitters of GHGs, and a global defender of dirty fuels," writes author Andrew Nikiforuk, an award-winning Calgary-based science writer who last year published Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of the Continent.

Canada's emissions from greenhouse gases, which are linked to climate change, have increased by more than 26 per cent since 1990. Canada's goal is to reduce emissions by 20 per cent from 2006 levels by 2020, a target that environmental groups say falls far short of what Canada must do to combat climate change.

"This report shows how Canada is not doing its part in the fight against climate change - in fact, it is allowing foreign oil companies to massively invest in the tar sands," said Virginie Lambert-Ferry of Greenpeace Québec.

Canadian environmental groups are trying to garner attention about the environmental impact of the oilsands ahead of a meeting in Washington Wednesday between between US. President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Among the topics up for discussion are climate change, and upcoming international climate talks in Copenhagen in December, where countries are going to try to come up with post-Kyoto Protocol targets for greenhouse-gas reductions.

Prentice will also be taking part in Wednesday's talks. On Tuesday, his office said in a statement that reaching Canada's greenhouse-gas emission targets by 2020 will require "major efforts."

"Our actions will involve participation by all the key sectors and sources of emissions, including the oilsands," the statement said.

Extracting oil from the tar sands requires "extreme" amounts of hydrogen, electricity, steam, hot water, diesel fuel and natural gas, Nikiforuk writes.

To meet future energy needs in the tar sands, several companies have already said they are interested in building nuclear reactors in northern Alberta to provide the energy needed to extract oil.

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