“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.”
So begins a letter (pdf) published Wednesday by more than 100 leading scientists from the U.S. and Canada, two days after G7 countries pledged to be free of their reliance on fossil fuels by the end of the century.
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Extraction of tar sands is incompatible with the U.S. and Canada’s vow to fight climate change, the letter states, outlining 10 reasons that a moratorium on any such projects is crucial to preventing irreversible damage to the world’s climate and significant negative impacts on the global economy, among other things.
Those reasons include:
- Continued expansion of oil sands and similar unconventional fuels in Canada and beyond is incompatible with limiting climate warming to a level that society can handle without widespread harm;
- Oil sands should be one of the first fuel sources we avoid using as society moves to non-polluting forms of energy, not the next carbon-intensive source we exploit;
- Current oil sands environmental protections and baseline data are largely lacking, and protections that exist are too seldom enforced;
- Contaminants from oil sands development permeate the land, water and air of the Canadian boreal landscape, and many of these impacts are difficult to mitigate;
“Working together, we can solve the energy problems before us. It is not too late, but the time to act is now.”
- Less than 0.2% of the area affected by Canadian oil sands mining has been reclaimed, and none restored to its original state;
- Development and transport of oil sands is inconsistent with the title and rights of many Aboriginal Peoples of North America;
- What happens in North America will set a precedent for efforts to reduce carbon pollution and address climate warming elsewhere;
- Controlling carbon pollution will not derail the economy;
- Debates about individual pipeline proposals underestimate the full social costs of the oil sands, and existing policies ignore cumulative impacts;
- A majority of North Americans want their leaders to address climate change, and they are willing to pay more for energy to help make that happen.