State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

Oil sands on Obama’s Canada agenda

President Obama visits Canada today, and climate change is expected to be on the agenda. In Canada, the big issue is the development of the Albertan oil sands, which promise greater energy independence from the Middle East (a longtime U.S. goal) but also greater emissions as a result of the energy-intensive process of extracting oil from the sands.

I talked about Alberta tar sands and Canadian climate politics here and here.

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Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, director Canada program, Natural Resources Defense Council
15 years ago

You are exactly right in your analysis of the lack of Canadian action to fight global warming. In anticipation of today’s meeting with President Obama, the Canadian federal government has been struggling to prove that their climate policies are the same as America’s. But we just have to look at the recent stimulus packages in both countries to see a stark difference in action: just today, the Pembina Institute ( released analysis that shows that the U.S. is to invest over six times more per capita in renewable energy and energy efficiency than Canada in the new stimulus package. Canada’s lack of action to control greenhouse gas emissions tells a story of close ties between the federal government and Alberta, home of the tar sands oil development that strip-mines and drills Boreal forests and wetlands for the tarry bitumen that is mixed with sand deep below the surface. The industry pollutes air and water, destroys migratory bird habitat, threatens public health and carries a heavy burden in terms of global warming pollution. Dirty fuels such as tar sands oil are not compatible with fighting global warming and building a clean energy economy. For more information on this issue, you can go to