Pipe Up Against Enbridge

by Milan on March 24, 2010

in Activism, Climate change, Climate science, Ethics, Oil sands

As announced by Tzeporah Berman, a number of First Nations groups have taken out an advertisement in The Globe and Mail, opposing the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline and crude oil tanker traffic. The proposed pipeline would carry oil from the Alberta oil sands for sale in export markets.

If such a campaign can succeed, it could play an important part in keeping those greenhouse-gas-laden fuels boxed in. By extension, that would mean most of it was left buried. The first necessity for avoiding the large-scale development of the oil sands is for the United States to begin restricting the use on such climate destroying fuels, through policies like low-carbon fuel standards and carbon tariffs on imports. Then, other avenues for sale need to be eliminated, including domestically in Canada and overseas.

Accomplishing that is sure to be difficult, given the short-term financial incentives that exist. Furthermore, if conventional oil returns to the high prices it had a few years ago, pressure to access unconventional supplies – regardless of how environmentally harmful they are – will surely increase. It is also a bit worrisome that the ad only mentions oil spills as a possible danger. Ultimately, the risk posed by the massive amount of greenhouse gases locked up in the oil sands is far greater.

While this stance against tankers and pipelines is to be applauded, the real test will come later. Communities will likely find themselves presented with the possibility of massive windfall profits from oil and gas sales, on the one hand, and the knowledge that choosing to exploit those resources would increase the chances of dangerous, catastrophic, or runaway climate change on the other. I fear that, like the Inuit communities that Alun Anderson describes as increasingly open to oil and gas exploration due to the potential profits to be had, the temptation to cash in on an oil sands bounty might overpower any impulse towards restraint for the sake of a stable climate.

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. March 24, 2010 at 2:05 pm

EU yields to Canada over oil trade “barriers”: sources
Wed Mar 24, 2010 11:23am EDT

By Pete Harrison

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union has yielded to Canadian demands it remove possible trade barriers to polluting oil sands to avoid further damage to ties, according to sources and leaked documents.

Relations are already strained after the European Union banned imports of seal products last July on animal welfare grounds, a move Canada is challenging at the World Trade Organization.

Canada warns that draft EU standards to promote greener fuels are too unwieldy and will harm the market for its oil sands — tar-like oil that is trapped in sediment and forms the world’s second-largest proven crude reserves after Saudi Arabia.

“Such a system would be extremely difficult to implement and monitor, and would in itself create barriers to trade,” Canadian Ambassador Ross Hornby told a top official at the European Union’s executive in a letter seen by Reuters.

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