Tar Sands Solutions Network

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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

The fossil fuel path is immoral and financially imprudent

Valerie Rockefeller Wayne | Rockefeller Brothers Fund - March 31st 2015

Press Clipping: I am proud of the legacy of John D Rockefeller, who built the greatest fossil fuel enterprise in history. In his day, fossil fuel was a liberating force – it literally changed the face of the earth, freeing many people from toil. The family business is now philanthropy; at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, which I chair, we use the money made from Standard Oil to advance social change that contributes to a more just, sustainable, and peaceful world. But the key phrase in the encomium above is “in his day”. Consider the words of my great-great grandfather’s rough contemporary, the poet James Russell Lowell, which he wrote about slavery and would later become a resounding hymn: “New occasions teach new duties; time makes ancient good uncouth; they must upward still, and onward, who would keep abreast of truth.”

Vancouver City Council votes unanimously to shift to 100% renewable energy by 2050

Janel Johnson | Vancouver Observer - March 26th 2015

Press Clipping: Vancouver City Council made history in Canada by voting to support a shift to 100 per cent renewable energy sources. In the motion, which passed unanimously, councillors directed staff to work on a package of policies that would effectively convert the entire city to run on clean and renewable energy. In his introduction, Mayor Gregor Robertson called climate change "the most daunting and important challenge of our time." He called the consequences of not addressing it "catastrophic" and said we can no longer wait for federal governments to act. "Cities," he said, "as the most direct level of government, need to take action."

Complete shift to renewable energy within Canada’s reach, academics say


Ivan Semeniuk and Shawn McCarthy | Globe and Mail - March 23rd 2015

Press Clipping: In a 56-page policy document, more than 70 scientists, engineers and economists say Canada is in a more favourable position than most countries for a switch to renewable power. The most significant barrier is not technical or economic, but a lack of political will, they said. Canada could shift entirely to renewable sources of electricity by 2035 and eliminate 80 per cent of its greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century. To get there, they recommend a national carbon-pricing plan, and greater effort to move electricity produced from low-carbon sources such as hydro dams across provincial borders.

Climate fight reshaping the global consensus


Bill McKibben | The Guardian - March 10th 2015

Press Clipping: Pressure is growing. In fact, a relentless climate movement is starting to win big, unprecedented victories around the world, victories which are quickly reshaping the consensus view – including among investors – about how fast a clean energy future could come. It’s a movement grounded in the streets and reaching for the photovoltaic rooftops, and its thinking can be easily summarized in a mantra: Fossil freeze. Solar thaw. Keep it in the ground.

Rejecting fear and fighting for a safe climate

Cameron Fenton | 350.org Canada - February 23rd 2015

Blog Post: The Royal Canadian Mounted Police leaked a report targeting the activities of what they call the "anti-petroleum movement" of "peaceful activists, militants and violent extremists who are opposed to society's reliance on fossil fuels." The report came just weeks after it came to light that FBI agents were investigating American anti-tar sands activists, visiting them at their homes and places of work. If nothing else, these attempts to polarize opposition prove one thing -- that governments are paying attention to the growing movement for climate justice.

Encyclopedia of the oil crash: C is for carbon (putting a price on)

Jason Kirby | Maclean's - February 19th 2015

Press Clipping: In the final days of the fall sitting of the House of Commons, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said it would be crazy to impose additional costs on Canada’s oil and gas sector in a time of low prices if the U.S. was not enacting similar carbon emission policies. But most carbon policies (carbon taxes or cap-and-trade programs) that have been discussed for the oil sands would have added 50 cents per barrel to the average cost of production over the life of a project, so it’s unlikely this would make a substantial difference to the outlook for the oil sands.

How to sell a carbon tax to Canadians


Margo McDiarmid | CBC News - February 19th 2015

Press Clipping: If you want to bring in carbon tax that actually works, the folks at Clean Energy Canada have some helpful tips for you. Clean Energy Canada, a think-tank that focuses on clean renewable energy, conducted interviews with 13 people involved in crafting British Columbia's carbon tax in 2008. "We wanted to get a look behind the curtain and find out how do you do something like this," said Clare Demerse, the author of the report that came out of those studies.