Home » WWF news

Carbon capture won’t stop tar sands threat

27 October 2009

A damning new report warns that carbon capture technology will not solve the climate threat posed by tar sands developments.

Extracting oil from tar sands is one of the dirtiest and most carbon-intensive forms of energy production. It creates on average three times more carbon emissions than standard oil extraction – disastrous for the global climate.

But all the major oil companies, including Shell and BP, are currently operating in Canada’s vast tar sands.

The oil companies and their political supporters claim that carbon capture and storage (CCS) – removing CO2 during the process and storing it underground – will be the climate-friendly solution.

But our latest study (Carbon Capture and Storage in the Alberta Sands – a Dangerous Myth) produced with the Co-operative Financial Services, debunks this idea. It finds CCS has “no serious ability to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions anytime this side of 2050”.

Too little, too late, too expensive
To stop average global temperatures rising more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels – and avoid unstoppable and devastating climate change – developed countries must reduce emissions by at least 40% by 2020 and 80% by 2050.

Far from achieving this, Canada’s emissions are on the increase – currently a massive 34% above their original Kyoto target.

CO2-intensive tar sands projects, which have increasingly replaced dwindling conventional oil production, have been the fastest rising source of carbon emissions, and the Canadian government expects these emissions to grow by a further 270% by 2020..

Even optimistic forecasts for CCS only predict emissions reductions of 10-30% by 2020, and 30-50% in the longer term – and it will need to be massively subsidised along the way.

WWF’s director of campaigns, David Norman, says: “Investing billions in unproven CCS technology for tar sands is diverting money away from projects that will help meet global energy demand without damaging the climate.

“Canada should invest in other low-carbon technology and stop the expansion of tar sands.”


You can...


read the new WWF/CFS report, Carbon Capture and Storage in the Alberta Sands – a Dangerous Myth

read previous WWF/CS report, 'Unconventional Oil: Scraping the Bottom of the Barrel?'

get more information on oil sands


find out more about our Toxic Fuels campaign

Fish eye view of Arctic sea ice

News stories