The report from Canada’s Environment Commissioner shows that the federal government’s single-minded focus on the expansion of the tar sands and other fossil fuel energy sources is blind to the long-term risks to Canada’s economy and society.
According to the Commissioner’s report, Canada is not on track to meet its 2020 carbon target, the tar sands monitoring has significant flaws, and the melting of the polar ice cap has the potential to substantially increase risky marine traffic in the Arctic.
The report shows that the government’s unequivocal support for the tar sands and its vision of Canada as a fossil-fuelled energy superpower is contributing to Canada’s failure on climate. As the report shows, the federal government’s claims about Canada’s progress toward meeting its 2020 carbon emission targets are not supported by the data. The Commissioner’s report shows that Canada will not meet its 2020 commitments unless it changes course immediately.
The tar sands monitoring program is not working and Canadians are not getting a true picture of the full impact of tar sand developments, especially their impact on human health. These flaws need to be addressed and the monitoring program needs to receive dedicated funding beyond March 2015 and for as long as the tar sands operate.
Canada also needs to keep its often-made, and more frequently broken, commitment to regulate and reduce carbon emissions from the tar sands. If the tar sands triple in size as planned by 2030, global warming emissions from the tar sands will climb 250 per cent.
The Commissioner’s report also shows that there are serious risks to increased marine traffic in the Arctic, since ships are mostly navigating through dangerous, uncharted territory without adequate weather and ice information. Four ships have run aground since 2007. The melting of the ice cap should be seen as a warning sign, not a green light to increased marine traffic and fossil fuel extraction in the Arctic.
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