Saturday, January 21, 2017

Expanding Tar Sands Will Kill Paris Targets and Climate Stability, Report Finds

Pipeline approvals ‘make the goals impossible to reach,’ finds Oil Change International.

From “Climate on the Line: Why New Tar Sands Pipelines Are Incompatible With the Paris Goals.” (Credit: Oil Change International, 2016) Click to Enlarge.
Canada can’t increase tar sands production or build more pipelines if the world is to achieve the targets on global carbon emissions set by the Paris Agreement on climate.

That’s the central conclusion of a new report by Oil Change International (OCI), a U.S. research and advocacy group dedicated to exposing the full costs of fossil fuel extraction.

“There is no scenario in which tar sands production increases and the world achieves the Paris goals,” says the report.

Along with 176 other nations, Canada pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 with the goal of limiting global temperatures to a two degree Celsius increase.

“For all Prime Minister Trudeau’s positive diplomacy in Paris, if he approves a pipeline, he will be the one to make the goals impossible to reach,” says the report.

The problem, explains the report, is not just bitumen’s high carbon footprint (about 17 per cent more than conventional oil) but that pipelines drive bitumen expansion and that high-cost tar sands mining projects can last for 50 years.

In addition, the bulk of emissions come from the processing and upgrading of high-carbon bitumen, a tarry crude, as well its eventual burning in the form of gasoline.

The majority of Canada’s oil exports consist of raw bitumen, a cheap refinery feedstock, which is then upgraded at U.S. refineries for local consumption or export.

“Eighty per cent of the climate impact of tar sands oil,” says the report, “comes from releasing carbon wherever the fuel is burned — thus the most important impact of tar sands expansion is global.”

But the unrestricted approval of pipeline projects such as Trans Mountain and Line 3 could drive the expansion of bitumen production by nearly two million barrels a day over the next two decades, says the report.  Current oil sands production is 2.5 million barrels a day and accounts for 60 per cent of Canada’s oil production.

That means that Canada could be adding more new oil production to global markets than Brazil and Libya combined.

Expanding Tar Sands Will Kill Paris Targets and Climate Stability, Report Finds

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