Canada holds the largest reserves of tar sands in the world. Tar sands are deposits of oil-rich bitumen mixed with clay and sand embedded in rocks often buried beneath the surface.
The environmental impact of tar sands production is enormous. Two tonnes of topsoil have to be removed to produce each barrel of bitumen, creating vast open mines. Extracting the deposits is estimated to be three times more carbon-intensive than conventional oil sources. It also causes the loss of natural habitats with vast areas of boreal forest cleared in order to mine the sandy bitumen - and pollution of local waterways with toxic chemicals.
Canada plans to increase production from today's 1.5 million to 7 million barrels a day by 2020.
While there is understood to be no oil from tar sands currently in the UK's petrol pumps, the UK recently refused to back a new EU fuel directive which would have singled out oil from Canada's tar sands as having a higher carbon intensity than conventional oil - a move that effectively would have barred oil from tar sands in Europe.
A day of action organised by the International ‘Stop the Tar Sands' network is taking place this Saturday, June 18th in North America and Europe.
All kinds of demonstrations are planned to try to bring Canada to account for its destructive tar sands industry.
In London, a demo-fest is planned outside the Canadian High Commission in Grosvenor Square. The ‘Stop Tar Sands' network are asking people to bring flowers and messages in sympathy for all that's perished by the industry.
To find out more about the UK aspect of tar sands, you can sign up to the UK Tar Sands Network an ongoing campaign against tar sands.
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