globemail.jpg

The Globe and Mail reported last week:

Less than 24 hours after the election of Barack Obama, Canadian cabinet ministers begin calling for a pact that would keep emissions down while protecting Alberta’s oil sands projects

This is Canada’s version of “Two tens for a five?”

Seriously, Canada, just a couple of days into his transition, and already you’re trying to play our Prez-elect by getting him to high five (fist bump?) the “biggest global warming crime ever seen“? Back off, dudes!

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is proposing to strike a joint climate-change pact with president-elect Barack Obama, an initiative that would seek to protect Alberta’s oil sands projects from potentially tough new U.S. climate-change rules by offering a secure North American energy supply …

A Canada-U.S. climate-change pact could tie those issues together by adopting common standards and mechanisms such as a market-based emission trading system, while acknowledging the important contribution the oil sands make to North American supplies and the need to adopt technologies that would reduce oil sands emissions.

What the Obama team has acknowledged to date is the important contribution the tar sands make to global warming.

In June, Obama said, “each and every year, we become more, not less, addicted to oil — a 19th-century fossil fuel that is dirty, dwindling, and dangerously expensive” and senior energy adviser Jason Grumet then told reporters it’s an “open question” whether Canadian tar sands fits in with Obama’s clean energy strategy:

“If it turns out that those technologies don’t advance … and the only way to produce those resources would be at a significant penalty to climate change, then we don’t believe that those resources are going to be part of the long-term, are going to play a growing role in the long-term future.”

You need huge amounts of energy to “extract and upgrade the bitumen to synthetic crude,” most of which is currently produced by burning natural gas. The primary technology being discussed to reduce emissions is our old friend and budget-buster nuclear power. In this strange vision of the future, nuclear-powered environmentally friendly tar sands could be flowing our way as early as 2016. In the unlikely event this ever happens, let’s call the new product “oilent green.” It will certainly provide even more huge water demands on a region whose potable water is already being wiped out by the tar sands development.

As an aside, the Canadians now seem to like the term “oil sands” rather than the traditional term “tar sands.” No doubt it makes it seem like, oh, I don’t know, maybe up through the sand came a bubblin crude, oil that is, black gold, Texas tea, Athabasca euphemism (see ClimateProgress commenter, Jim Eager, here).

I can’t imagine that the Obama administration wants to enable Harper’s do-nothing climate policy:

… Canada’s approach does not include a firm cap on emissions, but instead uses an “intensity target” which regulates emissions on the basis of production levels.

Hmm. That sounds familiar. Harper’s plan to “apply intensity-based targets until 2020, allowing emissions to continue to rise until then” — is a direct copy of the Bush administration strategy (see here for an explanation of what intensity-based targets are and why they are meaningless).

Good thinking, Harper. He apparently believes Obama was the guy who ran on a platform of “four more years.” I guess that, to Canadians, American presidential candidates all look the same.

This post was created for ClimateProgress.org, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.