Friday, 17 September 2010

Canadian Tar Sands. Not the answer to Peak Oil.

Chief Al Lameman of the Cree First Nation (Centre)
with Chester Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace Delegation.
Odeon Cinema Manchester, England showing of "Tar Wars". Sept 17th.
Event organised by the Co-op Bank's Toxic Fuels Campaign.  
Left the allotment behind this week for the city and a big screen showing of "Tar Wars" - where hundreds of people came together to watch this BBC documentary - exposing the ecological and human damage caused by extensive tar sands exploration in Canada.

The message was: no matter how hard people try to take small steps in their everyday lives to cut carbon emissions - all our hard work could be thrown away by the multinationals.

Tar sands consist of oil trapped in a complex mixture of sand, water and clay. According to the Cooperative Bank - who are bank-rolling a huge campaign to stop the tar sands projects - the extraction and production of tar sands emits on average three times as much carbon dioxide as the extraction and production of conventional oil. Fully exploiting Canada's tar sands the co-op says "would lead to an estimated increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide of between 9 and 12 parts per million, enough to take us to the brink of runaway climate change". The oil industry is calling for $379 billion to be invested in the tar sands production by 2025 to massively increase production.

And there's a David for the Goliath oil corporations. At the film screening we had the privilege to meet Chief Al Lameman of the Cree First Nation. Around seventy per cent of all existing 'in-situ' operations are within Beaver Lake Cree traditional territories. Tar Sands exploration is set to triple within these territories over the coming years.

The Cree are mounting a legal challenge. Woodland Caribou are a symbol of Canada's pristine wilderness and an important part of traditional ways of hunting. They are found in undisturbed old growth boreal forest and forested peat lands. This small indigenous community are calling upon the Canadian government to protect the remaining ranges of the woodland caribou herds within their ancestral lands with immediate effect, including a moratorium on all new industrial developments. If this is not forthcoming they will seek a judicial review in the Canadian courts to force the Canadian Government to take this action.

All of these major new projects and expansion plans could be halted if the caribou herd ranges within the Beaver Lake Cree's ancestral lands were to receive legal protection. It would also prohibit a significant number of undeveloped leases granted in the southern Athabasca tar sands field.

Other speakers at the Manchester Meeting included: Jack Woodward, leading expert on Canadian aboriginal law and Beaver Lake Cree Counsel and Paul Monaghan, Head of Social Goals and Sustainability, The Co-operative.

To find out more about the campaign click here : Stop the Tar Sands - support the Beaver Cree Nation's Challenge

See also the feature : Fuelling the Future - Peak Oil what is it and why does it matter?
My article series on Sustainability, solar and the Triple Crunch.

Friends of the Earth on Tar Sands
Greenpeace campaign on Canadian Tar Sands

See this link to find out what the Canadian Government says about the "Oil Sands":
Canadian Government and Oil Sands.

For more pictures see this Guardian piece on the Tarnished Earth Exhibition - currently on London's South Bank.

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