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Creating a Low Carbon Future

Canada will continue to produce and use oil for some time, but building an economy based on tar sands oil means missing the boat on the enormous employment and economic opportunities created by the inexorable global transition towards renewable energy. In fact, investment in renewable energy now outpaces investment in fossil fuel infrastructure, and employment opportunities in the renewable energy sector is set to grow substantially in the years ahead. A low carbon future is on the horizon, and Canada needs to abandon the tar sands so it won't be left behind.

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Over the past eight years, and despite a global economic collapse and subsequent challenges in the world’s major economies, the renewable energy sector experienced solid growth. According to recent estimates, the renewable energy sector employs five million people worldwide, and is predicted to grow rapidly as the world transitions to clean sources of energy.

At the same time, the warning signs that we need to get serious about tackling global warming have never been clearer. Thousands of heat records were broken across the continent this year, and Arctic sea ice was almost 700,000 square kilometres smaller than ever before, a loss equivalent to the size of Texas.

The oil industry’s plan to dramatically increase oil production will lead Canada in the wrong direction if we want to reduce climate-changing pollution, ensure a healthy planet for our children, and take advantage of the financial benefits of the renewable energy sector that will inevitably replace the oil industry as the economic engine of our society. Indeed, investing in energy efficiency, renewable energy and public transit not only reduces pollution, it creates six to eight times more jobs than comparable investments in fossil fuels.

We know that Canadians care deeply about both the environment and the economy. The oil industry’s plans to ramp up tar sands production to over five million barrels per day are not in the best interest of Canadians, economically or environmentally. It's time to invest in a clean energy economy and a low carbon future.

Creating a Low Carbon Future Updates & Resources

Carbon crash, solar dawn


Paul Gilding | RenewEconomy.com.au - March 19th 2014

Press Clipping: I think it’s time to call it. Renewables and associated storage, transport and digital technologies are so rapidly disrupting whole industries’ business models they are pushing the fossil fuel industry towards inevitable collapse. Some of you will struggle with that statement. Most people accept the idea that fossil fuels are all powerful – that the industry controls governments and it will take many decades to force them out of our economy. Fortunately, the fossil fuel industry suffers the same delusion.

Electrification, consumer empowerment, and power grid reform keys to new energy future

February 3rd 2014

Blog Post: ENE, a leading non-profit organization that researches and advocates innovative environmental policies, today released, “EnergyVision: A Pathway to a Modern, Sustainable Low Carbon Economic and Environmental Future,” which provides a framework for adopting a fully integrated and low carbon energy system ---based on data from the Northeast that is applicable on a national level. EnergyVision lays out a new vision for reforms in four key, interdependent areas that can produce a cleaner, lower cost energy system: electrifying buildings and transportation, modernizing the grid, utilizing clean electric supplies and maximizing energy efficiency. If changes proposed in this plan were to be adopted and implemented, states could be far along the path to reaching their goals for 80 percent reductions in carbon emissions.

Vancouver Island First Nation grasps potential of alternative power


Sarah Petrescu | Times Colonist - January 7th 2014

Press Clipping: While oil pipeline debates, anti-fracking protests and increasing fossil fuel demands embroil the country from coast to coast, a small Vancouver Island First Nation is leading the way on a different path. In the past five years, the seaside T’Sou-ke nation has become a world-renowned leader in solar energy. “When we were all involved in developing a collective vision to provide a safe and healthy community we looked far into the future and said, ‘What do we need to start right now to ensure a secure future for our grandchildren’s children?’ ” said Chief Gordon Planes. The answer came in four parts: Energy security, food security, cultural renaissance and economic self-sufficiency.

Amory Lovins: A 40-year plan for energy

December 16th 2013

Visual: In this intimate talk filmed at TED's offices, energy innovator Amory Lovins shows how to get the US off oil and coal by 2050, $5 trillion cheaper, with no Act of Congress, led by business for profit. The key is integrating all four energy-using sectors—and four kinds of innovation.

Reinvent Fire: Change Energy Use Forever


December 16th 2013

Visual: Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era offers market-based, actionable solutions integrating transportation, buildings, industry, and electricity. Built on Rocky Mountain Institute's 30 years of research and collaboration in all four sectors, Reinventing Fire maps pathways for running a 158%-bigger U.S. economy in 2050 but needing no oil, no coal, no nuclear energy, one-third less natural gas, and no new inventions. This would cost $5 trillion less than business-as-usual—in addition to the value of avoiding fossil fuels' huge but uncounted external costs.

How we can grow our economy while shrinking emissions


Céline Bak, Richard Peltier, Tom Rand | Toronto Star - November 25th 2013

Press Clipping: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and International Energy Association warn that two thirds of proven reserves of fossil fuels must stay in the ground if the world is to avoid dangerous global warming. Rising to this challenge, our major trading partners have quickened the pace on emissions reductions. Europe and California have implemented fuel quality directives. U.S. states, such as New York, are developing border taxes to reflect carbon content. China will start regulating large carbon emitters and pricing carbon, and has entered into bilateral discussions on climate change with the U.S. Innovative technologies are unlocking unconventional oil supplies, which are being developed from Poland to Pennsylvania, and major investors are reviewing the risks associated with the oil sands. What if there is a way to grow and diversify the economy, and become a key player in global markets, all while significantly lowering greenhouse gas emissions? This is entirely possible if Canada puts a price on carbon and integrates its low carbon technology industry with its extractive, manufacturing and industrial sectors.

Ontario’s move to zero coal shows leadership in tackling climate change


Susan Casey-Lefkowitz | NRDC - November 25th 2013

Blog Post: With coal often as the elephant in the room at the international climate talks, the Canadian province of Ontario has a good news story that shows important leadership in tackling climate change. Ontario is about to become the first jurisdiction in North America to move to zero coal. The province is shutting down its remaining coal-fired power plant and introducing a new law to keep it that way. Coal remains the dominant source of climate destroying carbon emissions world-wide. We can’t keep that up and tackle climate change. Countries from the United States to India and China are tackling how to deal with coal’s air and climate pollution. Ontario’s move shows that we can have a healthy, growing economy with good access to energy through alternatives as energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Look what’s slowing down global warming


Tim McDonnell | Grist - November 12th 2013

Press Clipping: Climate deniers like to point to the so-called global warming “hiatus” as evidence that humans aren’t changing the climate. But according to a new study, exactly the opposite is true: The recent slowdown in global temperature increases is partially the result of one of the few successful international crackdowns on greenhouse gases, in this case chlorofluorocarbons. Without the Protocol, environmental economist Francisco Estrada of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México reports, global temperatures today would be about a 10th of a degree Celsius higher than they are. That’s roughly an eighth of the total warming documented since 1880.