New report shows total oil sands emissions close to double widely used figures

report can be downloaded at:

A new comprehensive report by an independent researcher, Michelle
Mech, is garnering attention as it shows that total production-related
greenhouse gas emissions from the Alberta oil sands are close to double the
National Inventory Report figure for 2008, which is often loosely misinterpreted
as representing the total emissions from oil sands production.  The oils sands
category was eliminated in the newly released 2011 National Inventory Report,
which contains emissions accounting for 2009.  

report is extremely well-researched and merits serious attention,” said Green
Party Leader Elizabeth May. “It is completely unacceptable that the Harper
government is trying to hide oil sands emissions data from the UN.  Now we have
a new report that is even more damning, as it takes into account all
well-to-pump emissions.  It is even more apparent that any increase in
production must be halted.”

federal government admitted last week to deliberately excluding data showing a
20 per cent increase in annual pollution from the oil sands in 2009 from
Canada’s National Inventory Report to the UN.

far reaching consequences of oil sands production are much greater than its
widespread proponents are willing to acknowledge,” said report author Mech.  The
report, entitled A Comprehensive Guide to
the Alberta Oil Sands: Understanding the Environmental and Human Impacts, Export
Implications, and Political, Economic, and Industry Influences
, presents an
exceptionally broad range of information on the scope and repercussions of
current production and potential future development in the Alberta oil

report provides a detailed accounting of oil sands production-related greenhouse
gas emissions.  “Canada’s National Inventory Report (NIR) is only responsible
for reporting greenhouse gas emissions that occur in Canada.  As well, certain
‘in-Canada’ production-related emissions fell under other reporting categories
and were not included in the 2008 oil sands emissions total in the 2010 NIR. 
This is why the NIR’s oil sands emissions figure should not be interpreted as
representing a grand total of well-to-pump emissions,” said Mech.  NIR reported
that 5% of Canada’s 2008 greenhouse gas emissions (or 37.2 megatonnes) resulted
from the oil sands.  Mech’s report estimates that other production-related
emissions could represent over 35.7 megatonnes of additional pre-combustion
emissions for 2008, which could effectively double the NIR

other significant emissions, produced in the process of extracting and
converting bitumen into an end use fuel, include:

Small oil sands companies that are not required to report their

The 92% of in situ produced bitumen that was exported for

The oil sands refining done in Canada but categorized under ‘refining’ rather
than ‘oil sands’,

Oil sands refining that was done in the United States,

Transportation of bitumen blends and synthetic crude oil to refineries in the
United States,

Emissions from the production and processing of natural gas used in oil sands

Biological carbon losses due to land use changes, using Global Forest Watch’s

research report includes information on environmental impacts, regulatory
inadequacies, viable alternatives, and human repercussions, including the
effects on First Nations people, the exploitation of temporary foreign workers,
and the lives of mobile workers. 

also provides insight into the political, industry, and economic factors
influencing oil sands development, furnishes an overview of crude oil pipelines
and carbon capture and storage, and discusses Canada’s poor low carbon
performance, global warming, and global exploitation of unconventional fossil

concludes, “The Alberta oil sands are impeding the enforcement of adequate
environmental policies and emissions reduction within Canada and adversely
influencing Canada’s role in global climate change initiatives.  They are also
setting the stage for further exploitation of unconventional fossil fuels on a
worldwide scale, which would lead to a substantive increase in greenhouse gas
emissions and provide a means for global governments and industry to perpetuate
the heavy use of fossil fuels rather than seriously tackling the necessary
conversion to renewable energy, low carbon transportation and energy supplies,
and reductions in energy use.”

report can be downloaded at: 




Michelle Mech
250-479-0878 or 250-537-8520

Director of Communications