Five prominent Canadian environmentalists told Washington lawmakers this week that the Keystone XL pipeline will lead to such a huge growth in oilsands' carbon emissions, it will help tip the world into catastrophic climate change.
Although Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently told Americans that Canada would not take "no for an answer" on the pipeline, until the project is approved, the environmentalists said further expansion of the oilsands should be immediately stopped – followed by a gradual shutdown of all operations.
"The current trajectory for the growth of the tarsands is consistent with the International Energy Agency's prediction of a six-degree (Celsius) growth in the temperature on the planet," Tim Gray, executive director of Environmental Defence Canada, told reporters Friday at a news conference. "That is a catastrophic scenario."
"Most of the oil that remains in the ground in Alberta has to stay there," he added.
The environmentalists, who included broadcaster and scientist David Suzuki, came to the U.S. capital to counter what they claim is a disinformation campaign waged over the last eight months by Canadian politicians.
The environmentalists met this week to try to persuade a handful of U.S. senators and congressmen, as well as Kerri-Ann Jones, the U.S. State Department assistant secretary in charge of the Keystone file, to stop the pipeline's construction.
The environmentalists said that if U.S. President Barack Obama was sincere when he
stated earlier this year that his decision on the cross border pipeline will be based on its potential impact on carbon emissions, he should reject the project.
The activists said the pipeline is a facilitator that will help triple oilsands output over the next 15 years, with the resultant tripling of carbon emissions.
They said they told U.S. lawmakers that the Canadian government has misled them by claiming that the pipeline is not a factor in expansion plans. (Some oilsands companies have stated that if the Keystone is not built they will have to curtail expansion plans.) The 1,900-kilometre pipeline will transport up to 830,000 barrels of oil a day mainly from the oilsands to Midwest and Texas Gulf Coast refineries. About 1.7 million barrels of oilsands bitumen are produced a day. The Alberta government predicts that will more than double to 3.7 million by 2021.
The carbon emission increase will be so large it will negate emission decreases achieved by other sectors of the economy, Gray said.
For instance, carbon emission reductions from the closure of all the coal plants in the province of Ontario "will be completely wiped out by the growth of the tarsands," he told reporters.