Canada’s immense reserves of tar-sands that are being converted into petroleum products are highly inefficient from both environmental and economic perspective. Investments are high in terms of such accessing the sites mostly in Canada’s far north. To convert the tar-sands into petroleum products necessitates a highly inefficient process, again from an economic, carbon emissions and technology perspective. However, with prices of a barrel of oil at above $100 a barrel, the bonanza continues with up to now very few people to complain about the abuse of nature in this very remote and largely uninhabited area. Ironically, the greatest protest has come from largely sparsely inhabited US states over which a pipeline would deliver the crud to refineries along the southern rim of the US.
Politically Friendly-Environmentally and Economically Expensive:
It is not that the world is running out of oil. The tar-sands of Canada are also favored because they are seen as “friendly oil” in the US political debate – rather than from the “Arabs,” Russia or Venezuela, they come from the neighbor immediately north. Petroleum and refined product prices have not for some time reflected true market fundamentals. They have been spurred by financial market activity and speculation, as oil has become a trading and investment instrument. Perhaps both Republicans and Democrats have tolerated such in part because the former sees the oil industry as part of its constituency while the latter perceives higher petroleum costs spurring cleaner and renewable alternative energy. In fact though, the alternative currently resulting is dirtier and less efficient with longer-term destructive consequences to air and the ground where mined.
Canada’s Government Had Both Obligation & Self Interest to Propose Alternative?
Canada’s Conservative Party Government has decided to formally abandon the Kyoto Treaty only days after it was extended as part of a patchwork approach to the Durban Climate Change. (Read: - “Durban Climate Talks – Failure or Success?” - http://diplomaticallyincorrect.org/films/blog_post/durban-climate-talks-failure-or-success-by-ambassador-mo/42771). Canada’s Government rightfully claims that neither China nor the US as the biggest global emitters of carbon into the atmosphere are bound. However, it does not offer an alternative, and according to Canada’s own Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, the Ottawa’s representative’s did “not act in good faith” during the Durban climate negotiations. According to Ms. May, having already made the decision confidentially to abandon Kyoto before Durban, Canada’s representatives than negotiated to weaken pro-environmental goals/provisions. If Kyoto is not part of the answer, the negotiations might have produced perhaps a different and otherwise more demanding result including particularly moving up the 2020 date for actual implementation of mandatory limits on carbon emissions. With Canada opting out, the result is more pollution and less certainty about our shared efforts to limit climate change. Ironically, if not the vast majority of the citizens of Canada, it may be the indigenous people and polar bears along Canada’s northern rim that will feel the growing effects of climate change. On the other hand, the profits to be reaped may be significant, but probably short-lived as more efficient alternatives should quickly make the tar-sands mining both economically and environmentally untenable.
PHOTO – From –Max-Plank-Gesellschaft - http://www.mpg.de/511990/pressRelease200509301
By Ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey
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