Oilsands Emissions To Quadruple By 2030: Harper Government Report

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Greenhouse gas emissions from Alberta's oilsands are about to explode.

That's one of the messages contained in a Canadian government report quietly submitted to the United Nations over the holidays.

The report projects that emissions from the oilsands will nearly quadruple between 2005 and 2030, jumping from from 34 megatonnes of CO2 equivalent to 137. And the changes in the oilsands will make a major contribution to Canada's total emissions.

Canada will go from 737 megatonnes in 2005 to 815 in 2030, according to the report.

All of the government's emissions targets are based on 2005 levels, and according to internal government reports, Canada is nowhere near on track to meet them.

Under the 2009 Copenhagen Accord, Prime Minister Stephen Harper committed to cutting Canada's emissions 17 per cent from 2005 levels by the year 2020. Instead, the new report to the UN shows Canada's emissions actually rising over the long term, largely due to the oilsands.

The Conservative government is expected to announce new, less ambitious, targets this year, according to The Globe and Mail.

Canada may actually be underestimating emissions due to "fugitive" leaks from oil and gas exploration, according to Climate Action Tracker analysis from Germany's Climate Analytics, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Dutch-based energy institute Ecofy cited by The Guardian.

The report to the UN, which was submitted without a press release, comes amid increasing scrutiny of the federal government's role in pushing oilsands development.

Earlier this month it was revealed that Chuck Strahl, the head of the watchdog committee overseeing Canada’s spy agency, has registered as a lobbyist for Northern Gateway pipeline builder Enbridge. The news prompted widespread outrage and questions about just how cozy the relationship is between major oil companies and the Conservative Party.

This week, rocker Neil Young blasted the Tories for its pro-oilsands agenda, comparing the industry hub of Fort McMurray to Hiroshima.

"Canada is trading integrity for money," Young said. "That's what's happening under the current leadership in Canada, which is a very poor imitation of the George Bush administration in the United States and is lagging behind on the world stage. It's an embarrassment to any Canadian."

Last year, a report from the Washington-based Center for Global Development ranked Canada's climate policy dead last among developed nations.

With earlier files and files from The Canadian Press

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