Wed, Sep 16, 2009 - Page 7 News List

Greenpeace report describes Canada as a ‘carbon bully’

CLIMATE CHANGE The group said Canada was engaged in ‘outspoken, aggressive’ lobbying to obstruct agreement on new limits on emissions

AFP AND AP , MONTREAL AND ST ALBERTA, CANADA

Environmental group Greenpeace on Monday accused Canada of contributing to a “global climate crisis” by seeking to expand extraction of oil from tar sands in Alberta province.

In a report entitled Dirty Oil, the organization said that Canada, along with Japan, is seeking to block progress toward a new global climate change agreement to be finalized at a December summit in Copenhagen.

Greenpeace published its new report shortly ahead of a meeting between Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and US President Barack Obama today.

Canada is the biggest supplier of oil for the US, and the two leaders are expected to discuss expanded extraction from the tar sands.

Greenpeace’s report accuses Canada of being a “global carbon bully,” working to undermine the emissions goals set by the Kyoto climate change treaty and engaging in “outspoken, aggressive” lobbying to obstruct agreement on new greenhouse gas limits to be negotiated at the Copenhagen summit.

The organization commissioned the report from journalist Andrew Nikiforuk, an expert on tar sands.

The extraction of oil from tar sands is much more energy intensive than other oil extraction operations, Greenpeace said, meaning that “the tar sands have a higher carbon footprint than any other commercial oil product on the planet.”

Meanwhile, Canadian oil sands company Syncrude pleaded not guilty on Monday to charges relating to the deaths of 1,600 ducks on its toxic waste pond last year.

The deaths of the mallards drew widespread attention and prompted Harper to lament that Canada’s international reputation had been tarnished by it.

Syncrude officials told court the company did everything it could to prevent the incident and has since installed better technology to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

At the time of the incident, Syncrude said it was having problems with its electronic cannons, which were used to scare the birds away from the oily waters. The cannons were not operational at the time but have now been fixed.

The Alberta provincial and federal government served Syncrude with joint charges under the Migratory Birds Convention Act and the Alberta Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act.

The provincial charge carries a maximum fine of C$500,000 (US$462,000), while the charge from Environment Canada, the country’s environmental agency, could cost the company up to $300,000.

“The prosecution in our view is still necessary because I don’t think the public would be accepting that they’ve simply made some changes and that’s good enough,” prosecutor Kent Brown said.

The trial is scheduled for March.

Oil sands form an important Canadian industry but the process of separating out the oil has been criticized by environmentalists as highly polluting.

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