Renewable Energy, Not Tar Sands Says Greenpeace

A recent report from Greenpeace says Canada can create thousands of green jobs while generating over 90 percent of the nation’s electricity and heating needs from renewable energy sources by 2050 rather than exploiting its tar sands resources.
  
While Canada has many green initiatives, the nation has come under fire for its extensive tar sands oil extraction; a dirty and energy intensive activity. 
   
Canada’s boreal forests are being ripped up at a frightening rate to wring out the black gold it contains.
   
Up to four tons of landscape are dug up and between two to 4 barrels of water are also needed to produce one barrel of crude from the tar sands. Additionally, there is increasing evidence of pollutants including mercury, arsenic, lead and cadmium polluting the Athabasca River and its tributaries as a result of tar sands activity. Not taking into consideration the carbon dioxide of the oil once combusted, the tar sands oil extraction industry in Canada is one of the nation’s greatest contributors to its considerable carbon footprint.
  
The report, Energy [R]evolution: A Sustainable Energy Outlook for Canada, prepared by Greenpeace and the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC) , challenges what it says is "Canada’s need for dirty, risky fossil fuels."
  
It says low impact renewable energy can supply 96 per cent of electricity and 92 per cent of Canada’s total heating needs by 2050 with the bulk of electricity needs supplied from hydro and wind power, supplemented by solar energy. Heat requirements would be met by solar collectors, sustainable biomass and geothermal
heat.
  
Canada’s tar sands oil isn’t just used domestically though; it is supplied in huge quantities to the USA and to a lesser degree at this point, Europe. Tar sands industry supporters say it is a resource that should be utilised to meet the world’s energy needs. However, Greenpeace says a global scenario of investments in public transit, more efficient vehicles and a rapid shift to electric vehicles could reduce the world’s demand for oil by 66 per cent by 2050.
  
The full 120 page report can be downloaded here (PDF)