Monday, May 30, 2011

So Much For "Intensity" Targets

Reading this piece on more lack of transparency from our government, I was struck by one line in particular, something that should concern us all because it negates even the most flimsy of emissions counters. Never mind that the Harper government buried the oil sands data from the U.N. report, this statement is depressing:

The data also indicated that emissions per barrel of oil produced by the sector is increasing, despite claims made by the industry in an advertising campaign

In the last few years the Conservatives have used "intensity" targets to mask a lack of progress on emissions. Overall emissions can rise, but the Conservatives can still claim great progress based on lowering what is puked out per barrel. At the very least, intensity reductions denotes progress, a very important aspect to the overall sales job. Let's just plow ahead, because we know technological innovations and improvements will drastically reduce emissions in the future.

However, here we have evidence which not only negates the optimistic future, but shows a situation where "intensity" is actually INCREASING. I admit, I'm even a little surprised by this revelation, one would expect a levelling at the very least. This fact begs the question as to why intensity is actually rising, DESPITE all these bullshit claims by industry, despite all this talk about improved techniques. An incredibly depressing reality, when you factor in the inevitable rise due to increased production, at the very least one would hope we could see some efficiencies. The Conservatives spoke of the lowest of bars to try and manipulate numbers to look a success. What kind of a worrying development that this industry looks poised to fail, and badly, on the most easiest of measures.


Tof KW said...

As I've said so many times in the past, the Harper government acts very much like 5-year olds.

Since you can't beat them (though you may want to) then shame is always a useful tool.

So how do you shame the Harper government? Easy, the nations of the world should start boycotting Canadian petroleum and other products until we start acting responsibly.

We Canadians have already given a 'Trudeau Salute' to the world by continuing to keep Harper in power. It's time the world answered back.

sharonapple88 said...

There should be more attention on this's hardly made a blip in the media. Just astounded on this.

It would be great if someone could stage an intervention on this matter. Yes, the oil sands are important, but there's got to be a better way than what's currently being done to extract it. All the PR and spin in the world doesn't change the apparent facts in the matter -- even the emissions per barrel are rising.

crf said...

A carbon tax would be the best incentive for companies to reduce the GHG intensity of oil production.

Delaying a carbon tax will result in technological lock in as the oil sands expand. Which makes it harder and harder to implement a tax in the future.

The industry itself has frequently made supportive noises about a Carbon tax or equivalent. Right now, a company that improves GHG intensity may get kudos, but little or no benefit on the bottom line. Meanwhile the company's competitors which didn't do anything to reduce intensity would make relatively more profit. So even industry recognizes the quite obvious fact that there needs to be direction on GHG from the government, because the problem won't solve itself, and that a tax is the most efficient way.

Progressive bloggers seem to believe that it is Harper doing the oil sands industry's bidding by delaying a Carbon tax, and that any noises from industry about pricing carbon are just political greenwashing. I am not so sure that is the case.

I think Harper refuses to price GHGs in order to keep Ontario's industrial expansion wedded almost exclusively to oil sands, in order to further wed Ontario's and Alberta's political interests. A carbon tax would provide an industrial expansion for Ontario's nuclear and renewables industries independently of the oil sands' expansion. And Ontarians would then feel that their economic, and therefore political fate, would not be so closely tied to Albertans' (and so be less likely to elect conservatives).

It's All about Harper. Less about the oil industry, or even the Carbon Dioxide problem. The positions of the Harper government make most sense if you assume he is just trying to cement his political power, rather than placate his supposed friends. Harper will be happy to manipulate the oil industry at the industry's and Canada's expense if it helps him get elected.

Steve V said...

I agree, and I thought of the carbon tax when I put up this post. I thought of it in the wider context, here you have a report about one province reducing emissions, which helps to offset the overall country wide figures, and there is no benefit. Ontario is paying more for energy because of these courageous decisions, it would be fair if they were compensated for the trouble. But, instead I read about obscene amounts slated to pour into Alberta coffers, with no measurement of pollution included. Doesn't seem particularly fair, but we live in a very selfish country these days it seems.