Aboriginal Persons and Climate Change

The overwhelming majority of scientists are in agreement about the following fundamental assertions: 1) the world has been warming and will continue to warm for the foreseeable future, 2) the warming is largely due to human activity (burning fossil fuel – oil, coal and gas – and destroying forests), and 3) the consequences of rising temperature are grave enough to warrant global action.

In Canada, the single largest threat to the environment is the development of the oil sands in the provinceof Alberta. Defined by many as “the largest industrial project in the world”, this process contributes climate change in a variety of ways:

  • Converting tar to oil requires huge quantities of natural gas, water and energy.
  • Thee production of one barrel of tar sands oil releases three times more greenhouse gas emissions than does the production of a barrel of conventional oil.
  • There are plans to construct the MacKenzie pipeline from the Beaufort Seato the Albertapipeline system in the tarsands. The Pembina Institute arguesthat carbon dioxide from the Mackenzie gas project and the fuel’s end use would push Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions 10% further away from its Kyoto Protocol commitment.
  • In 2003, emissions from the oil sands accounted for 3.4 per cent of Canada’s total. As the oil sands continue to grow, Pembina projects that by 2010 they will account for 7.5 to 8.2 per cent of Canada’s total emissions.
  • This massive industrial development is devastating Alberta’s Boreal Forest, part of the planet’s largest terrestrial carbon sink.