You are hereOpen Letter to John Baird, Environment Minister
Open Letter to John Baird, Environment Minister
Dear fellow activist, As you know, federal environment minister John Baird has just released his long awaited plan of action on targets for industry reductions in greenhouse gases [GHG]. After examining his plan here at the Polaris Institute, we find that his proposals for ‘intensity based targets’ to reduce GHG emissions from industries like the Alberta tar sands, to be flawed and full of loop-holes. The main reason is that ‘intensity targets’ will only set GHG limits per barrel of oil and will not account for the enormous expansion in the industry that is expected between now and 2015.
Right now, the tar sands of Alberta produce over a million barrels of dirty crude oil every day, most of which is exported directly to the United States. To produce this crude oil, gigantic equipment is used to strip away the trees, muskeg and top layers of earth followed by deep open pit mining and sub-surface in-situ steam methods to get the bitumen ['black gloo'] which is then melted in order to extract the oil. In separating the oil from the bitumen, relatively clean natural gas is burned, thereby emitting volumes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Today, the Alberta tar sands industry is well on its way to becoming Canada’s number one industrial emitter of greenhouse gases. Currently, annual emissions from tar sands production amount to 27 million tonnes. By 2015, however, crude oil production from the tar sands is expected to multiply four to five times, in order to meet rapidly rising U.S. demands. As a consequence, forecasts predict annual greenhouse gas emissions from the tar sands will rise from 27 million tonnes to 126 million tonnes in less than a decade.
Under any circumstances, these emission rates are not only environmentally unsustainable but they could pave the way for an ecological nightmare. And, John Baird’s ‘intensity based targets’ will do little to alter this picture. Moreover, new tar sands operations which will be mainly responsible for the 4-5 fold increase in production expected, will get a 3 year exemption from Baird's emission targets.
Not only does John Baird's 'green plan' effectively scuttle Canada's obligation under Kyoto as an international treaty, but also, Canada is considered to be the world’s leading greenhouse gas emitter on a per capita basis. With the production plans for the Alberta tar sands, Canada’s reputation will only get worse.
As concerned citizens, we need to send a clear message to environment minister John Baird calling for a new strategy. Please use the sample letter to the federal environment minister below calling on him to go back to the drawing board and come up with a new, more comprehensive, industry-wide plan with annual targets for a progressive reduction of greenhouse gases. Just follow the instructions [adding a personal note if you wish] and your letter will be sent directly to the Minister’s office.
Director, Polaris Institute
Send the letter from The Polaris Institute's new Tar Sands Website.