Canada’s oil sands: Not so dirty after all

Ironically, the authors of this study oppose tar sands development.

The Globe and Mail reports:

…The research, by University of Victoria scientists Andrew Weaver and Neil Swart, calculates the climate impact of producing the oil sands. Dr. Weaver is an internationally respected scientist who has contributed to United Nations climate-change documents. He and Dr. Swart completed several analyses.

The most important examined the impact of producing the roughly 170 billion barrels of oil-sands crude that the industry currently considers economic to produce. If it’s all hauled out of the ground – a process that will take more than a century, even at the forecast 2020 rate of three million barrels a day – the cumulative global-warming impact is 0.02 to 0.05 degrees Celsius, according to the research.

If every barrel of the oil-sands resource is produced – a near-certain impossibility that would see some 1.8 trillion barrels, seven times the size of Saudi Arabia’s current reserves, brought out – it would raise global temperatures by one-third of a degree.

By comparison, burning all of the world’s enormous coal resources would raise temperatures 15 degrees, while consuming the new global bounty of shale gas would produce a lift of just under 3 degrees. (Using up economically accessible reserves of natural gas and coal will raise temperatures 0.16 and 0.9 degrees, respectively)…

Read the entire report.