Canadian and US scientists call for oil sands moratorium

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More than 100 Canadian and American scientists and researchers have urged the government to stop tar sand expansion, saying the fossil fuel is incompatible with fighting climate change and is slowing the transition to a cleaner economy.

The climate scientists, economists, geophysicists, and biologists wrote a joint letter with ten reasons why oil sands should be put on hold. These include climate-related consequences, landscape degradation, water and air pollution and threat to aboriginal people of North America.

The signatories of the document, which has been sent to PM Stephen Harper, include 12 fellows of the Royal Society of Canada, 22 members of the US National Academy, 5 recipients of the Order of Canada, and a Nobel Prize winner.

Based on evidence raised across our many disciplines, we offer a unified voice calling for a moratorium on new oil sands projects. No new oil sands or related infrastructure projects should proceed unless consistent with an implemented plan to rapidly reduce carbon pollution, safeguard biodiversity, protect human health, and respect treaty rights. [Our] ten reasons, each grounded in science, support our call for a moratorium,” the statement reads.

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    Tar sands has met fierce opposition and come under scrutiny in recent years because oil from this sector emits around 12% more carbon dioxide than conventional oil, while also impacting on the environment and local people.

    Tar sands development has also contributed to making Canada one of the top emitters of greenhouse gases in the world.

    Thomas Homer-Dixon, professor of governance innovation at the Balsillie School of International Affairs at the University of Waterloo and one of the signing scientists, said, “If Canada wants to participate constructively in the global effort to stop climate change, we should first stop expanding the oil sands. More growth simply shows Canada has gone rogue.

    Photo: Howl Arts Collective via flickr

     

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    Further reading:

    Aiming for tar sands oil is greedy and destructive, Neil Young tells Canadian PM

    Canadian tar sands oil pipeline is approved, despite protests

    Intensive lobbying for tar sands taking place in Europe

    Jimmy Carter speaks out against Keystone XL tar sands pipeline

    Activists call on Canadian investors to ditch fossil fuels