What do Canadians think of Keystone XL and tar sands?

There's increasing visibility of the movement in the United States to stop the Keystone XL pipeline, minimize the expansion of Canadian tar sands and fight climate change, but what do Canadians think of all this?

Merran Smith writes at Grist a clever open letter to the US on behalf of Canada about the conflict Canadians feel:

The truth is, just beneath our mild-mannered veneer, we Canadians are a tormented people. Here’s why.

Unlike you — with your Netflix, and Apple, and Facebook, and Boeing, and General Electric and so on — we have a resource economy. Since our early days as the global leader in the beaver-pelt industry, we’ve cut down trees, and dug up rocks, and pumped stuff out of the ground, and sold it to you — and others — so you could turn it into more useful things like furniture, appliances, houses, suburbia, and so on.

Canada has a fortune in oil money that they intend to export to the US or around the world.

Fossil fuels literally keep the lights on in these parts, put bread on the table for hundreds of thousands of us, and provide critical government revenue that we have come to depend on for hospitals, schools, and other social services. But we’re just starting to realize the growing risk and uncertainty associated with this economic model.

Which is why we’re so … conflicted.

Canada's largest newspaper, The Globe and Mail, ran a good essay from Tzeporah Berman on the need for Canada to confront its role in exacerbating climate change:

The fact is that the government and industry plan to triple oil sands production in the next seven years. The resulting emissions will cancel out every other effort in Canada to reduce climate pollution. Emissions related to the Keystone XL pipeline alone would add pollution equivalent to 4.6 million cars. (And that’s only counting Canadian emissions, not downstream emissions from refining and burning the oil).

People in the United States and Europe know that if the oil sands are not managed and regulated, and if there is no cap on production, there can be no meaningful action on climate in this country.

As we've noted before, simply stopping the Keystone XL pipeline won't keep the tar sands in the ground, but it won't make them easier to bring to market. Stopping Keystone is a first step, but we also need Canadians to step up and demand their government take action to keep the tar sands in the ground.

Tags: Alberta | Canada | Global Climate Change | Tar Sands