Press Releases

For Immediate Release: March 8, 2011

Canadian Government’s Aggressive Promotion of Tar Sands Draws International Attention:
Vigils at Canadian Missions in America and Europe

New Report Outlines Activities of Canadian Government to Undermine International Climate Action

(Washington, DC; London, UK; Ottawa, Canada; Brussels, Belgium) Hundreds gathered outside more than 20 Canadian diplomatic missions in the U.S. and European Union to voice concern and extend hope that Canada will reverse its international lobbying on behalf of highly destructive and polluting tar sands oil industry. The vigils were held in conjunction with a new report documenting the Canadian government’s aggressive lobbying to promote tar sand and stop international climate action.

“Yesterday, hundreds gathered at Canadian foreign missions to offer a prayer for peoples of all nations to remember that the land belongs to the future and is not ours to destroy,” said The Reverend Canon Sally G. Bingham, Interfaith Power & Light’s President. “We are concerned for our Earth, for she has a fever that will only be made worse by burning tar sands from Canada. We pray that people all over the world awaken to monumental climate-threats posed by the extraction and burning of tar sands oil.”

Follow links for a list of and images of the events.

The new report, Dirty Oil Diplomacy – The Canadian Government’s Global Push to Sell the Tar Sands, outlines the changing domestic and international policies of the Canadian government as they work to expand the tar sands – Canada’s fastest growing source of greenhouse gas pollution. This report is based on hundreds of pages of documents obtained through Canadian freedom of information laws*. It paints a clear picture for the first time of the tar sands advocacy strategy, a collaborative effort of the Governments’ of Canada and Alberta along with industry to ensure that no doors are closed to Canada’s highly polluting tar sands. 

“The Canadian Government is working hand in hand with the tar sands industry in a campaign to ensure nothing stands in the way of the reckless expansion of this highly polluting oil,” said Hannah McKinnon, Campaign Director with Climate Action Network Canada. “In the era of dangerous climate change, this campaign is an offensive attack on countries, First Nations, and citizens that recognize the urgent need to move away from dirty energy towards the safe and clean energy future the world needs.” The full report can be found here or on  The report was released by Climate Action Network Canada, Environmental Defence Canada, Equiterre, Greenpeace, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the U.S. Sierra Club.


* The documents which were obtained through Access to Information (ATIP) legislation are published individually in the Tar Sands Database on website of Climate Action Network Canada and are referenced throughout the report. The largest package of ATIP documents is also available as one file to provide overall context (127 pages).

Listen to the tele-press conference here.

Hannah McKinnon, Climate Action Network Canada,      
Eddie Scher, Sierra Club,
Josh Mogerman, Natural Resources Defense Council,
Franziska Achterberg, Greenpeace EU,      
Suzanne Dhaliwal, UK Tar Sands Network,




For Immediate Release: November 30, 2011

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Kumi Naidoo and other African leaders call on Canada to fight global warming, not boost tar sands:
Full-page Globe and Mail ad contrasts Canada’s past positive role in apartheid struggle with current negative global warming position

Toronto, ON – As the UN climate summit gets underway in Durban, South Africa, a group of anti-apartheid activists and African non-governmental organizations are calling on Canada to restore its reputation as a leader on global issues, which has been tarnished by Canada’s active promotion of the tar sands.

A full-page ad in the Globe and Mail compares the Canada that was one of the first western countries to impose sanctions against the apartheid regime in South Africa in 1986 with the Canada's failure to date to respond to global warming, which will have serious social and environmental impacts. The text of the ad reads:

“Canada, you were once considered a leader on global issues like human rights and environmental protection. Today you’re home to polluting tar sands oil, speeding the dangerous effects of climate change. For us in Africa, climate change is a life and death issue.  By dramatically increasing Canada’s global warming pollution, tar sands mining and drilling makes the problem worse, and exposes millions of Africans to more devastating drought and famine today and in the years to come.  It’s time to draw the line. We call on Canada to change course and be a leader in clean energy and to support international action to reduce global warming pollution.”

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Africa is one of the most vulnerable continents to climate change, with projected reductions in agricultural yield in some countries as high as 50 per cent by 2020. The population at risk of increased water stress in Africa is projected to be between 75-250 million and 350-600 million people by the 2020s and 2050s, respectively. East Africa is currently dealing with one of its worst ever droughts, with a quarter of a million people at risk of death in Somalia, and a further 12 million in need of humanitarian assistance.

"By walking away from Kyoto, the Canadian government is also damaging our reputation as a country that keeps its word,” said Gillian McEachern of Environmental Defence. “The tar sands are not only turning us into a polluting nation, but also into one that will break its commitments in the service of dirty oil."

A new website, was also launched which features videos from African individuals speaking about the impacts of climate change on their lives and calling on Canada and other world leaders to do more.  The groups involved include Environmental Defence Canada, Equiterre, Greenpeace Canada, Natural Resources Defense Council, Nobel Women’s Initiative and Sierra Club U.S.

“We used to boast about how Americans sewed Canadian flags on their backpack when travelling abroad,” said Keith Stewart of Greenpeace Canada. “Now we try to bully other nations into taking our dirty oil. If we want to be taken seriously in the fight to stop climate change, we have to draw the line at the tar sands.”

“Exploiting dirty Alberta tar sands oil is not merely short-sighted—from the global perspective, it's downright negligent,” says Michael Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director. “If the United States is going to be a leader in the emerging clean energy economy, we must break our addiction to oil—and there’s no better place to draw the line in the sand than at tar sands.”


The ad can be downloaded here.

For more information, or to arrange an interview, contact:
Gillian McEachern, Environmental Defence, ;
Keith Stewart, Greenpeace Canada,
Emilie Vallieres, Equiterre
Eddie Scher, Sierra Club U.S.,