A new SEI analysis finds that most of the country’s existing major oil sands projects are resilient to a decline in oil prices, and are thus likely to be “locked in.” Furthermore, if Canada lets oil production expand as expected, global emissions could increase by 50 to 150 million tons CO2 by 2030 – the equivalent of putting as many as 32 million cars on the road each year.
SEI’s findings raise questions about efforts to expand Canadian oil production, including new, long-lived infrastructure such as the Kinder-Morgan pipeline.
“The Canadian federal government can significantly increase its ambition and contribution to global climate goals by limiting the future expansion of oil sands extraction,” said SEI Senior Scientist Peter Erickson, who authored the report. “Conversely, a failure to do so could almost fully counteract the climate benefits of its current Climate Action Plan.”
Canada currently produces about 1.5 billion barrels of crude oil each year. That is expected to rise to over 2 billion barrels by 2030, according to the country’s National Energy Board.
The report found that:
“Continued expansion of the oil sands may lead to an oversupply of oil in global markets, increased oil use, and negative climate consequences,” Erickson said. “This could make the low-carbon transition more difficult outside, as well as within, Canada and undercut global progress toward Paris Agreement goals.”
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