Le Blogue Broadbent

Tar sands bumpf at convention

These buttons are making the rounds at the Conservative Party convention. A more apt slogan is, "I love GHG emissions."

Here’s what we know about Canada's tar sands. 

The goal of the Conservative government is to triple tar sands production by 2035, even as Canada keeps missing its greenhouse gas reductions targets

After walking away from the Kyoto Protocol, Canada signed on to a more modest target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 17 per cent of 2005 levels by 2020. But we’re still waiting for the government’s twice promised emissions regulations for the oil and gas sector. 

But even with these regulations, we know Canada will miss these modest targets.

And that's the rub here: as the late Peter Lougheed noted, the lack of a plan for any orderly development is the problem. The tar sands must be contextualised in a broader national pollution reduction framework, and their development can't just proceed in a gold-rush style that exports Canadian jobs. 

But Canada lacks this framework, so we're seeing development without a meaningful plan.

“They’ve increased significantly and are projected to continue to do so,” University of Alberta professor Andrew Leach points out.

Calgary Herald columnist Don Baird characterizes this trend line as “Alberta’s pathetic record on cutting greenhouse gas emissions,” saying it’s “moved into a critical red zone.”

A new study by researchers at UC Irvine and the University of Michigan paints a picture of what this looks like in areas downwind of "Canada's main fossil fuel hub in Alberta": higher incidence of blood cancers among men in the area.

With all this talk of the tar sands and greenhouse gas emissions, here's another question: how many millions of dollars did the oil industry spend on rebranding the tar sands, so "oil sands" ended up on buttons at the Conservative Party convention?