photo: sbamueller/CC BY-SA
A new report from Canada's environment ministry shows that emissions from expanding tar sands production and use will double by 2020 and will overwhelm emission cuts in energy production elsewhere. This will entirely undermine Canada's efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions 17% by 2020, as pledged under the Copenhagen Accord. So much for 'ethical oil'...The Globe and Mail sums up:
[Between 2005-2020]...electricity generators will see their emissions fall by 31 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, largely as a result of coal-fired plants giving way to natural gas-fired power.
But that figure is far eclipsed by the oil sands, which will see carbon output rise by 62 megatonnes, tripling its 2005 levels. Of that, 25 megatonnes will come from new so-called "in situ" extraction methods that inject steam into underground wells to extract oil sands crude. A further 11 megatonnes will come from expansion of oil sands mining. The rest is expected from additional upgrading, a process used to transform the thick, heavy oil sands bitumen into a lighter crude that can then be refined into end products like diesel and gasoline.
Over all, the oil and gas sector will see its emissions rise by 46 megatonnes, after taking into account expected reductions from pipelines, refining and the production of non-oil-sands crudes.
In total, the report says Canada's emissions will rise by 54 megatons, due to increase in emissions from transportation, buildings, and agriculture.
Of course, the tar sands industry says that the report overstates the coming increases, citing future technological improvements will reduce emissions. Which is no doubt true to some degree. Whether these improvements will be enough seems highly unlikely at this point.