Tar sands facts

Climate impact

Download a fully-referenced climate impact fact sheet (February 2013)

Producing a barrel of tar sands oil creates three to four times more climate pollution than producing conventional crude oil in Canada or USA.

A full “wells-to-wheels” lifecycle analysis by the US Department of Energy shows tar sands oil creates 22% more climate pollution than conventional crude oil.

Climate pollution per barrel has increased 21% in the last few years.

Climate pollution from the tar sands has doubled in the last decade — and is predicted to more than double again in the coming decade.

Climate pollution from producing tar sands oil is projected to hit 104 MtCO2 by 2020. That is twice current emissions from Norway or Bangladesh — and exceeds the combined emissions from 85 nations.

Burning tar sands oil currently produces two times more climate pollution than burning Canadian coal. This is set to grow to four times more by 2020.

Around 15% of bitumen gets turned into a dirtier-than-coal fuel called “petcoke”, making coal plants that use it even dirtier. The bitumen flowing through one large pipeline yields enough “petcoke” by-product to fuel five coal power plants

The IEA’s global energy models predict that the world will only want to buy 3.3 million barrels of tar sands oil per day on an energy path that give humanity a 50/50 chance to limit global warming to an increase of 2oC. Proposed tar sands production levels for 2020 is 3.5 million barrels per day.

The tar sands projects already approved by Alberta will supply far more tar sands oil than the world can use on a path to leads to a climate “catastrophe”.

Fully exploiting the tar sands could release more climate pollution than the USA and China combined — or EU plus China combined — have released in all their history. It could surpass all the oil ever burned by humanity.

Climate pollution pricing adequate to prevent catastrophic climate change will make the majority of the proposed tar sands oil supply too expensive to sell.

With a carbon price of $150/tCO2, $86 will be added to the price of a barrel of tar sands oil

Each major tar sands pipeline locks in a climate spill of five billion tonnes of CO2.

Switching ten percent of the EU’s oil to tar sands oil would increase the climate impact by 41 MtCO2 per year — equal to adding 21 million new cars to EU roads.

Download a fully-referenced climate impact fact sheet (February 2013)

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