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Energy ministers contradict themselves – claim reduced environmental impact while supporting expansion of tar sands

Ottawa, ON, July 19, 2011– Today environmental groups responded to the communiqué released by the Energy and Mines Ministers’ Conference in Kananaskis, Alberta. The outcome of the discussion about a national energy strategy failed to take meaningful steps towards a low-carbon future by showing support for Canada’s fastest growing source of industrial greenhouse gas pollution, the tar sands. The plan does include support for renewable energy and energy efficiency and pays lip service to the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“To support tar sands expansion at a time when, in this month in the U.S. alone over 900 heat records have been broken, is completely irresponsible and disconnected from reality,” said Gillian McEachern of Environmental Defence. “We need less global warming pollution by switching to clean energy, not more of it by digging up the tar sands.”

The Pan-Canadian plan released along with the communiqué identifies and elaborates on the need to ramp up energy efficiency and invest in smart grid technologies. However, the focus on the continued expansion of the tar sands seriously threatens Canada’s transition off of fossil fuels towards a safe, clean and reliable energy future.

“It seems that the oil industry got what it paid for– tacit support for the rapid expansion of the tar sands, Canada’s climate criminal,”* said Steven Guilbeault of Equiterre. “If Ministers want to make Canada an energy superpower dependent on the tar sands, they are going to need a time machine to take them back to the 20th century. We have seen leadership on clean energy from some provinces, but the outcome of the meeting is inconsistent with a 21st century energy strategy.”

The environmental groups urged them to act rapidly together on an aggressive phase out of fossil fuels and serious investments in clean energy and energy efficiency.

“Canadians deserve clean jobs, clean air, and a safe future for their children,” said Graham Saul of Climate Action Network Canada. “Provincial and federal governments need to show leadership in ending our reckless addiction to oil, coal, and natural gas and seriously ramp up support for clean energy.”


* The oil industry sponsored 1/3 of the ministerial meetings costs:

For more information, or to arrange an interview, contact:

Gillian McEachern
Environmental Defence

Hannah McKinnon
Climate Action Network Canada