The Alberta Oil Pipelines
The BCSEA’s Response
The BC Sustainable Energy Association’s goal is to help British Columbia become a world leader in the use of sustainable, renewable energy. Our vision is a province that is flourishing following an orderly transition away from the use of fossil fuels, and we have confidence that this is achievable.
We oppose the construction of new pipelines and the expansion of existing pipelines across BC to support the export of oil from Alberta’s oil sands. We also oppose any expansion in the shipping of oil across BC’s waters.
1. Oil has brought our civilization many benefits, but the age of cheap oil is almost over, and at the current rate of use the known oil reserves will soon be depleted. Our dependence on oil for transportation and farming is such that any nation that does not actively prepare for a future without oil runs a serious risk of economic and agricultural collapse.
2. Burning oil is a primary cause of global climate change, which is one of humanity’s most urgent crises. Climate change is bringing us rising temperatures, rising sea levels, acidification of the world’s oceans, an increase in extreme droughts, floods and forest fires, and huge economic costs if we do not reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.
The carbon in Alberta’s economically recoverable oil sands reserve would release 69 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide if it was all extracted and burnt - the equivalent of a hundred years of Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions. British Columbia has adopted a leadership role and it is essential that Canada do the same, to accept our moral responsibility and demonstrate leadership to the rest of the world.
3. Burning oil causes air pollution, resulting in many negative health impacts. Oil well accidents, pipeline accidents and other oil spillages pollute the world’s rivers and lakes, while oil tanker accidents pollute the world’s oceans.
4. Knowing that our use of oil is causing this harm, and that the extraction of the remaining oil will be increasingly difficult, expensive, ecologically dangerous and politically controversial, and that it will require ever larger inputs of energy to extract the oil from the oil sands, the only rational and intelligent path forward must be the development of sustainable forms of energy which permit an orderly transition to a world without oil.
5. The BCSEA celebrates our ability to achieve such a transition. Humanity’s long history of discovery and innovation in science and technology gives us confidence that the innovation needed for our civilization to prosper without fossil fuels will continue long after the last oil well has been capped and the last coal mine has been closed down. We have confidence that the world will be able to meet its future transportation, asphalt and plastics needs, and we have begun to spell this out in Transportation without Oil: 23 Steps to a Sustainable Energy Future, on the BCSEA’s website at www.bcsea.org.
BCSEA members and Chapters are encouraged to participate in actions and initiatives that emphasize the benefits of phasing out the use of oil, and to oppose the proposed pipelines and pipeline extensions. For Taking Action on the Oil Sands, the Pipelines and Oil Tankers, see http://www.bcsea.org/blog/guy-dauncey/2012/06/13/taking-action-on-tar-sands-pipelines-and-oil-tankers
 These major studies all conclude that the world could operate on 100% or close to 100% renewable energy by 2030 or 2050:
1. Energy (R)evolution. A Sustainable World Energy Outlook. Greenpeace, 2010. (95% by 2050) www.greenpeace.org/international/en/campaigns/climate-change/energyrevolution/2. The Energy Report: 100% Renewable Energy by 2050. Ecofys/WWF 2011. (100% by 2050) 3. The IPCC Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation. 2011. 1,000 pages, 125 authors. (77% by 2050) http://srren.ipcc-wg3.de/
4. Reinventing Fire – Bold Business Solutions for the New Energy Era, by Amory Lovins, Rocky Mountain Institute (supported by a team of 60 researchers). “Built on Rocky Mountain Institute’s 30 years of research and work in the field, Reinventing Fire maps pathways for running a 158%-bigger U.S. economy in 2050 but needing no oil, no coal, and no nuclear energy.” (Zero oil, coal or nuclear by 2050, natural gas later phase-out) http://www.rmi.org/ReinventingFire
5. Review of solutions to global warming, air pollution, and energy security, by Mark Jacobson, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University. Energy and Environmental Science, Issue 2, 2009. http://pubs.rsc.org/en/Content/ArticleLanding/2009/EE/b809990c. Also Shifting the world to 100% clean, renewable energy by 2030 - here are the numbers http://news.stanford.edu/news/2009/october19/jacobson-energy-study-102009.html (100% by 2030).
These studies both conclude that Europe could operate on 100% renewable electricity.
Scenarios for a Future Electricity Supply, by Dr. Gregor Czisch, Transnational Renewables Consulting, Kassel, Germany. www.amazon.com/Scenarios-Future-Electricity-Supply-Cost-optimised/dp/1849191565
Battle of the Grids: How Europe can go 100% renewable and phase out dirty energy. Greenpeace, 2011. The total global oil reserve - estimated at 1,324 billion barrels in 2007, including 173 billion barrels of economically recoverable oil in Alberta’s oil sands - is approaching its halfway mark. It took us 150 years to consume the first half of the available supply, and as we pass the peak of economically feasible oil production the pressure of rising demand will meet a falling supply. The second half of the global reserve is harder and more expensive to extract, and global demand is already pushing the limits of production, putting the brakes on global economic growth in response to the prospect of rising oil prices. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oil_reserves (2007) and http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/ene_oil_res-energy-oil-reserves (2005). If alternative sustainable energy sources are not developed and we do not curb our rate of energy use the resulting price inflation will cause worldwide economic disruption.
 Each barrel of oil releases 400 kg of CO2. 173 billion x 400 kg = 69 billion tonnes of CO2. Canada’s 2010 GHGs were 692 MT.
 To obtain new energy, energy must be expended – this is known as Energy Return On Energy Invested (EROI). When the first oil wells were drilled 100 years ago 1 barrel of energy invested produced 100 barrels of oil (EROI 100:1). Today, when Alberta’s oil sands oil is piped and shipped to China, 1 barrel invested produces only 2.41 barrels of oil. A unit of energy invested in wind produces around 20 units of wind energy, and a unit of energy invested in solar PV produces 8-27 units of solar energy.