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Climate Impacts

Few energy projects pose a larger threat to the climate than Canada's tar sands. Oil sands production emits three to four times more climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions than producing conventional crude oil, making it one of the world's dirtiest forms of fuel. 

Due to more energy intensive extraction processes coming online, it's only going to get worse: climate pollution per barrel has increased 21 per cent since 2010. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the oil industry's expansion plans will commit us to as much as six degrees Celsius of global warming, all but guaranteeing the destabilization of the global climate.

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Tar sands is 3-4 times worse for the climate than conventional oil
Key Issues:
- Industry expansion plans will lead to far greater than 2 degrees of global warming
- Canada's climate performance is the worst in the Western world
Current Status:
There are no meaningful emissions limits on the tar sands industry today

The tar sands are the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada, which emits more greenhouse gas emissions per capita than either the United States or China. The tar sands are the only reason Canada cannot meet its greenhouse gas-reduction commitments, and why it was the only country to pull out of the Kyoto climate change agreement.

Tar sands emissions have doubled in the past decade, and the industry’s expansion plans will double emissions again this decade, from 48 million tonnes in 2010 to 104 million tonnes in 2020. That’s twice current emissions from Norway, and exceeds the combined emissions from 85 nations.

If you thought that was bad, Alberta has already approved enough tar sands projects to produce climate pollution that exceeds the current combined emissions from 150 nations.

According to International Energy Agency projections, tar sands projects already under construction will supply all the tar sands oil the world can burn if we hope to keep average global warming below two degrees Celsius and avoid catastrophic climate change. But Alberta won’t stop there. Its government has already has approved further expansion to supply more tar sands oil than the world can burn even if we stay on the path to six degrees warming, or “climate catastrophe."

Current regulations do not meaningfully reduce greenhouse gas emissions from tar sands development. In the short term, more stringent regulations need to be put in place to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

To allow Canada to meet its commitment to reduce greenhouse gases, the oil and gas sector needs reduce its emissions by 42 per cent by 2020. This will require curtailing tar sands expansion and/or putting a price on carbon emissions of at least $100 per tonne by 2020.

Climate Impacts Updates & Resources

Activists promise biggest climate march in history


Adam Vaughan | The Guardian - September 9th 2014

Press Clipping: The Guardian reports that hundreds of thousands of people are expected to take to the streets of New York, London and eight other cities worldwide on September 21 to pressure world leaders to take action on global warming, in what organisers claim will be the biggest climate march in history.

Everything you need to know to attend the biggest climate march in history


Ari Phillips | ThinkProgress - September 16th 2014

Blog Post: For one week in late September, New York City will be the center of gravity for the fight to confront climate change. The People’s Climate March, being called the “largest climate march in history” by organizers, will potentially draw over a hundred thousand people to walk through Manhattan and show a level of demand for action not seen since the era of Civil Rights marches and anti-Vietnam protests. Here’s what you need to know to be a part of it.

Science clear on impacts of emissions

Kaitlyn Harvey | Saskatoon StarPhoenix - September 16th 2014

Press Clipping: This summer saw floodwaters rise across southern Saskatchewan and Manitoba, closing highways, sending families from their homes and causing widespread damage. Water levels rose so high that Environment Canada's senior climatologist, David Phillips, said the flooding was "unprecedented ... ridiculous," and described as "almost monsoonal" in some locations. The unprecedented flooding is not a freak incident, but a symptom of a deepening climate crisis that will have profound implications for Saskatchewan. It is time to listen to the science and to take action, which is why I'm going to New York City on Friday for the People's Climate March.

As people march, a moment of truth in the climate fight

Katherine Bagley | InsideClimate News - September 15th 2014

Press Clipping: The People's Climate March is more than just a call to action. As demonstrators from more than a thousand organizations representing millions of people prepare to descend on New York City on Sept. 21, it represents the biggest expansion of the climate movement so far. Once considered an issue only for environmentalists, global warming has become part of the agenda for labor unions, faith-based organizations, schools, small businesses, and student, social justice, parenting, public health and political groups.

Why I’m helping organize a cross-border climate rally at the Peace Arch

Eoin Madden | Georgia Straight - September 15th 2014

Press Clipping: I remember the day I first got word that something big was coming for all of us seeking an opportunity to stand up and demand action on climate change. I was chatting with an organizer from 350.org, a group cofounded by author and environmentalist Bill McKibben, who said, "Bill thinks we should create the biggest climate march in history.” I knew then that I wanted to do my bit to make that wish come true.

Audubon scientists: 314 North American bird species threatened by global warming

Editors | Tar Sands Solutions Network - September 11th 2014

Publication: Climate change threatens nearly half the bird species in the continental United States and Canada, including the Bald Eagle and dozens of iconic birds like the Common Loon, Baltimore Oriole and Brown Pelican, according to a new study published today by National Audubon Society. The study identifies 126 species that will lose more than 50 percent of their current ranges - in some cases up to 100 percent - by 2050, with no possibility of moving elsewhere if global warming continues on its current trajectory.

Climate film gets activists pumped for NYC march


September 11th 2014

Visual: When’s the last time you saw people lining up on the street to watch a commercial? How about an hour-long commercial about climate change? That’s what happened Sunday night for the New York premiere of “Disruption,” a documentary film promoting the People’s Climate March on Sept. 21. The screening is one of several pre-events that will peak on Sept. 12. “We’re going to make sure people in New York City can’t go anywhere on Sept. 12 without hearing about [the march],” said one of the organizers.