Friday, November 1, 2013

Increased Tar Sands Production Will Lock-in the Worst Impacts of Global Warming

If the Canadian government succeeds in significantly increasing tar sands production capacity it will be impossible to keep global temperatures below the upper threshold limit of 2 C. By 2020, the industry could have over 110 million barrels per day (bpd) of production capacity in place. This is over 22 million bpd more than International Energy Agency (IEA) models say we should be using if we are to reduce the risk of warming the planet more than 2 degrees C.

The tar sands are at the center of climate change causing emissions. This is because they are the dirtiest source of energy on the planet, add to that plans to radically increase production and we have a confluence of factors that will destroy any chance we have of staying within the 2 degree threshold.

Current tar sands production capacity is 2.28 million bpd, however, over 750,000 bpd is currently under construction, all of which should be operational by 2015. The Alberta government has already approved a further 2.22 million bpd of tar sands production that is not yet under construction. If those projects are built production capacity would be over 5.25 million bpd.

The Harper government has indicated that they would like to triple production bringing us to 6.84 bpd. This would ensure that we surpass the IEA’s 2 degree model by nearly three times. The tar sands industry has over 7.1 million bpd of projects proposed and under construction. The oil industry also has another 4.15 million bpd of projects that are either currently undergoing regulatory review or have been announced but not yet submitted for approval. Together this adds up to over 9.38 million bpd.

According to the IEA, we must keep tar sands production below 3.3 million bpd if we are to stay within the 2 degrees C upper threshold.

© 2013, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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