Tar Sands Megaprojects Hurt Canada's Ability to Meet Climate Goals: Report

As Canada’s provincial and territorial leaders meet Tuesday in Quebec City to develop a national energy strategy in the face of federal inaction on climate change, a new report warns that tar sands megaprojects like the Energy East pipeline could hinder the country’s ability to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming.

“Canada’s premiers have an opportunity to collaborate and provide leadership through a Canadian Energy Strategy,” said Erin Flanagan, an analyst with the Pembina Institute and author of the report, (pdf). “But to achieve shared climate objectives, the provinces will have to address carbon-intensive megaprojects and their consequences in terms of emissions.”

In particular, the think tank singles out tar sands operations, which the report notes are “Canada’s fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions and, as such, the largest barrier to achieving national climate objectives.”

TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline proposal, for example, “would provide an outlet for expanded [tar sands] production at a time when emissions are not adequately regulated—locking Canada in to more emissions growth,” the report reads. The crude oil production needed to fill Energy East could generate up to 32 million tons of carbon emissions each year, the researchers add, an amount roughly equal to the emission reductions Ontario made by phasing out coal-fired power in its province.