A debate is raging in Alberta over plans to get greater “dirty oil” out of the floor, which some say is in warfare with Canada’s environmental commitments. BBC HARDtalk went to investigate.
Whilst Hanna Fridhed welcomed us into her domestic in Castle McMurray final month, there has been no door to stroll via and no windows to look out of, simply the charred remains of a residence obliterated with the aid of fire.
The culprit? The Beast – the name given to the large wildfire that swept thru northern Alberta in Canada in May additionally, destroying elements of Castle McMurray and forcing the evacuation of its roughly 90,000 citizens.
For plenty environmentalists, the wildfire become now not certainly a herbal catastrophe but partially the end result c climate change, a factor introduced uncomfortably close to domestic via Fort McMurray’s proximity to Alberta’s significant oil sands deposits.
The oil sands, occasionally known as “dirty oil”, have long been a target of weather change campaigners who insist that the power-intensive extraction of oil sands and the greenhouse gas emissions it generates, mean most of the remaining deposits have to live within the floor.
But this is distinctly not going in particular with an envisioned one hundred sixty billion barrels mendacity beneath Alberta’s soil.
Alternatively, Alberta’s provincial authorities is introducing an economic system-huge carbon tax from subsequent yr and a cap on greenhouse fuel emissions.
That, together with Top Minister Justin Trudeau’s signing of the Paris weather Settlement in April, is seen as real development through a few Canadians.
Or is it? In the intervening time, oil sands operations emit more or less 70 megatonnes of greenhouse gasoline emissions every year however the cap could be set at 100 megatonnes.
Alberta’s Minister of Surroundings Shannon Phillips defended the higher cap: “The CO2 is what matters here and Alberta is the primary and best electricity-producing jurisdiction to say, ‘appearance yes you may increase, however you need to achieve this responsibly beneath an emissions cap this far and now in addition’.
“The reality of the problem is that in the quick to medium term, 20% of Canadian GDP is based on Alberta’s oil and fuel industry. This is not small.
“With all due recognize to environmental agencies out of doors of this province, our High obligation is to the humans of Alberta and we have simply long past thru a big drop in oil charges, tens of lots of human beings out of labor.”
So do environmental agencies which include Greenpeace want to get actual? Is it economically possible, let alone plausible, for Canada to show its lower back on this kind of rewarding aid?
Greenpeace activist Mike Hudema said Alberta’s tasks have been “accurate initial steps”, but brought: “When you have a look at tar sands or oil sands development, there’s no way you may preserve to extend, to feature 30 megatonnes of greenhouse gasoline emissions to the environment and nevertheless meet what we stated we had been going to satisfy in Paris.”
maximum of the oil sands are found beneath forests populated by way of bears, moose and different local flora and fauna. And inside a stone’s throw from this natural splendour is the Christina Lake oil sands operation, south of Castle McMurray.
It’s miles run via Cenovus electricity, whose government vice-president of oil sands manufacturing, Drew Zieglgansberger, guided us on a complete day’s tour, a type of smorgasbord of the numerous approaches used to deliver the oil to the floor.
Drills burrow right down to the oil sands, which can be 500m under the surface, then steam is pumped in to liquefy the oil before It is pumped to the surface. No open pit mining, no large scars on the panorama and no lakes of toxic waste. however, the system could be very power extensive.
“I assume the mission is surely not oil manufacturing it is the carbon emissions related to oil,” Mr Zieglgansberger instructed us.
“One of the huge matters we’ve been able to unlock right here the usage of generation is clearly enabling this aid to be a part of the energy blend. Within the ultimate 10 years by myself we’ve got dropped the emissions’ intensity of those barrels by way of over 33%.”
Christina Lake produces approximately a hundred and sixty,000 barrels of oil a day and Cenovus has plans for similarly enlargement.
Mr Zieglgansberger recounted climate change is “One of the most essential challenges of our time,” however insists the oil is necessary.
“Lt goes to be wished in any energy blend in any consensus, any report It is been published. If we appearance out [across] the following a long time, oil is still going to be wanted.”
HARDtalk on the road in Canada is presented by means of Stephen Sackur and produced with the aid of Tama Muru. You can see the programme on Monday 22 August on BBC World News and the BBC News Channel and after on BBCiPlayer (United kingdom handiest).