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NEWS: Kent to defend tar sands, oppose Kyoto at upcoming Durban climate talks

The Edmonton Journal reports, “As world leaders gather in South Africa to discuss climate change this week and next, Canada’s environment minister says he plans to defend Alberta’s oilsands and is willing to argue they are an ‘ethical’ and reliable energy source. Heading into the 17th Conference of the Parties meeting, Environment Minister Peter Kent says he will not sign on to any deals that mandate some countries reduce greenhouse gas emissions while others don’t — as his government argues was the case under the Kyoto Protocol. He is also unequivocal in his defence of northern Alberta’s bitumen production, a position he expects will be supported by Alberta Environment Minister Diana McQueen when she joins him at the end of the week.”

Kent says, “We still need to, and the industry needs to, and our provincial partners need to be aggressive in ensuring international friends and neighbours and customers recognize Alberta’s heavy oil is no different from heavy oil produced in any number of other countries which don’t receive nearly the negative attention or criticism. …It is a legitimate resource. …We talk about this on quite a regular basis. I think it’s important we correct where we find… misunderstanding, misinformation, or deliberate ignorance to demonize, to criticize, and to attempt…to create a boycott.”

Council of Canadians energy/ climate justice campaigner Andrea Harden-Donahue has written, “The tar sands are already the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada. Environment Canada estimates that emission from the tar sands will triple over the next ten years, by 2020, tar sands operations may account for twelve per cent of our national emissions! Numerous studies have verified that the tar sands have a heavier carbon footprint than conventional oil. One such report estimates that average GHG emissions for tar sands extraction and upgrading compared to conventional crude oil produced in Canada or the US are 3.2 to 4.5 times more intensive per barrel.” It has also been reported that Alberta’s emissions are expected to increase by 58 percent above 1990 levels by 2020.

Andrea also recently wrote, “The Harper government has consistently been on the wrong side at these UN climate talks. Rather than fulfill our commitments under the Kyoto Protocol and play a constructive role towards a binding international agreement that advances climate justice, our government has acted in the interests of Big Oil. Canada was the only country to return from the Copenhagen talks (2009) and actually increase our emission reduction target to allow for more greenhouse gas pollution. We also have no plan to meet this target. Canada is also helping to kill the good aspect, the binding emission reduction targets, of the only legally binding agreement on climate change, the Kyoto Protocol (which certainly has it flaws) by refusing to sign a second commitment period.”

The Council of Canadians is tracking the United Nations climate talks in Durban, which take place November 28 to December 9. We are part of a ‘home team’ of Ottawa-based organizers in communication with Canadian allies in Durban, ready to respond to Canadian government actions and international calls for solidarity. Andrea will be regularly blogging about the climate talks over the next two weeks. To read Andrea’s first blog on the eve of the Durban climate talks, please go to http://canadians.org/blog/?p=12257.