Point of No Return: Greenpeace releases report critical of Canada’s tar sands

A look at a tar sands mine from space (Image via Wikipedia.)

A look at a tar sands mine from space (Image via Wikipedia.)

Toronto – Canada’s tar sands ranked fifth of the 14 largest carbon intensive projects in the world, according to a new report from Greenpeace International.

The report, called Point of No Return, notes major energy projects (such as the tar sands in Canada) that increase climate change and place populations at risk. The report also cites the proposed massive coal expansion in Australia, China, the US and Indonesia, oil expansion in the Arctic and Brazil, and new gas production in the Caspian Sea and the US.

“No government can approve mega projects like Shell’s proposed new tar sands mines and claim they want to prevent climate chaos and devastation,” said Keith Stewart, climate and energy campaign coordinator for Greenpeace Canada.

Stewart presented the early results from the Canadian component of the report in November 2012 to the Joint Review Panel assessing Shell’s proposed expansion of the Jackpine tar sands mine.

The new report includes ground-breaking analysis by the consultancy Ecofys, which shows that by 2020 these 14 projects will increase CO2 emissions by six gigatonnes a year. The International Energy Agency (IEA) says that despite years of government promises to reduce emissions, CO2 emissions are already at a record high of 31.6 gigatonnes.

The Ecofys modeling found that the yearly CO2 emissions from these projects will be higher than total US emissions and will result in catastrophic global warming.

As key business and government leaders gather in Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum (WEF), they will find WEF’s Global Risks 2013 report, which warns that we are on course for the global temperature to increase of 3.6 to 4 degrees Celsius  and possibly by as much as 6 degrees. These increases are well above the promise of governments to keep global warming to below a 2-degree increase.

“Given the human suffering, destruction and economic turmoil of recent extreme weather events, a world with runaway climate change is a frightening prospect. We cannot let that be our legacy,” said Kumi Naidoo, executive director of Greenpeace International, who is attending the WEF.

The report identifies policy measures that could use renewable energy and energy efficiency to more than replace the energy from these 14 mega projects.

“We have the renewable energy solutions we need to avoid devastating climate change,” said Stewart “but when companies like Shell are promoting, and the Harper government is allowing, these massive climate threats stand in the way.”

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