Climate Change

Climate Change


The increasing emissions as regards greenhouse gases, principally from combustion of oil has led to a rise in global temperature by a rate greater than 1°Celcius since the start of the “industrial age” (Levi, 2009).  Based on these changes in global temperatures and by implication climate change, the world is speaking in concert regarding that it is critical that emissions are reduced or eliminated altogether and begin the ambitious transition to just, clean as well as renewable energy sources going forward. If fossil fuels cause further increases in global temperature say by 4 or eve five degrees Celsius, the world will be utterly decimated (Klein, 2014). It is on this background that this essay seeks to assess the validity argument that the oil industry in Canada should be held accountable for climate change.

The Oil Industry in Canada Should Be Held Responsible For Climate Change

Indeed, oil has turned out to both a blessing on one nag and a curse since its discovery more a century ago. The once cheap as well as abundant commodity has resulted in profound economic expansion coupled with improved living standards over the years. Despite this tremendous growth driven by oil, the energy source has impacted the environment with devastating consequences. Fossil fuel combustion and especially the use of oil is shaping the biggest challenge to the sustainability of life as presently constituted in the world through global warming and therefore climate change. The oil industry world over is responsible to the greatest extent for the resultant extreme weather conditions, rising sea levels, as well as unprecedented temperatures which are cumulatively causing harm to millions and their livelihoods throughout the globe (Rogers & Evans, 2011).


At the beginning of the current decade, Canada was placed 9th among 185 nations considered the greatest per capita emitters of greenhouse. Five years later, its rank in this regard rose to the 8th position and in 2009; the country was recorded as the 7th largest emitter of greenhouse gases primarily from oil consumption behind Japan and Germany (Rogers & Evans, 2011). Canada is a country characterized by a low density in terms of population and as such, transportation-often during the winter when fuel efficiency is low- represents a critical aspect of the Canadian economy. The implication adduced in this regard is that nearly one quarter (25%) of the total greenhouse gases (GHGs) generated in the country originate from trains, tracks, airplanes and in particular cars (Klein, 2014).

Without considering the gas/oil industry, residential as well as commercial fuel consumption generates 24% of the total amount of GHGs generated in the country with a further 14% coming from non-energy emission sources. The remaining 37% comes from the energy as well as power production sector (Rogers & Evans, 2011). In other words, the oil industry in Canada accounts for more than one third of the total emissions in the country. Based on these statistics, it appropriate for one to conclude or else argue that the oil industry within Canada should be held responsible for climate based purely on the amounts of greenhouse emissions it generates. Moreover, given the emission presented above, it is obvious that this specific industry is the single largest contributor to global warming and therefore climate change in as far as the country is concerned.

One particular aspect of this industry especially stands out in regards to climate change- tar sands or oil extraction from oil sands. In this respect, fewer projects in regards to oil production portend a greater threat in terms of global warming and associated climatic changes than the tar sands or extraction from oils sands in Canada. Towards this end, oil sand generation produces four times the amount of GHGs compared to traditional crude oil production techniques effectively confirming it as the dirties fuel form in the world (Klein, 2014).

The role of Tar sands in driving climate change is two-fold. On the one hand this source of non-renewable energy not only exploits water to the detriment of local populations but also affects the availability as well as quality of water which in turn contributes to desert encroachment. On the other hand however, tar sands present an energy-water nexus that presents a catch-22 situation as it were in the ongoing debate relating to the role of Canadian oil corporations in driving climate change.  Generating oil from tar sands requires substantial amounts of water while the provision of the same water for industrial or domestic consumption consumes significant energy resources generated mainly from foil or other forms of fossil fuels thereby aggravating the problem even further (Lopez, 2013) .

This form of energy-intensive production method is becoming a prominent feature of Canadian oil sector and as this form of fuel comes online, there is no doubt that climate change as presently constituted in regards to the Canadian context will assume a new and detrimental dimension.  Estimates by the International Energy Agency (IEA) indicate that climate change as a result of pollution associated with oil productions has increased by 21 percentage points since 2010 and with the expansion of oil production in Canada; the world is staring at an increase in global temperatures of 6 degrees Celsius and this implies that global climate will undoubtedly be destabilized (IEA, 2015).

It is indeed correct to conclude that the oil industry in Canada is the single largest emitter of greenhouse gases responsible for global warming and by extension climate change. This is largely driven by unsustainable production techniques such as extraction from tar sands. The anticipated effects will have long-term effects on not only the sustainability as well as overall health of the Canadian environment but also the entire world as current projections indicate that the oil industry in this country will account for a significant increase in world temperatures and therefore enhance the greenhouse effect resulting in major climatic changes. Towards this end, this submission asserts that argument that the oil industry in Canada should be held accountable for climate change


While the analysis conducted in regards to assessing the validity of the argument that the oil industry in Canada should be held accountable for climate change. Whereas it is indeed true that this particular industry is responsible to the greatest for climate change with respect to the Canadian context, it is noteworthy that the cumulative effects of emissions from other industries far outweighs that of the oil industry. The transport industry, commercial as well as residential consumption account for 50% of all emissions and if any industry is to be held accountable in this regard, it should the latter. Responsibility for climate change should essentially be a collective effort aimed at developing a mutual approach to addressing the challenge. Focusing only on one industry will not solve the problem although it might result in some short-term gains, it cannot address the threats posed by climate change in the long-term considering the challenge under examination is the very sustenance of the earth. Government policy and regulations as they are not effective means of responding to climate changes as they are inherently conceptualized to place economic interest ahead of environmental and health interests.

Response to Rebuttal

            As the single-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, the oil industry in Canada should be held responsible for climate as this is the only way the government and other relevant international bodies can underscore the importance of cleaner production approaches. By doing so, they will have set an example of the consequences resulting from wanton destruction of natural resources with regard to the sustainability of future generation.


            This submission has critically assessed the validity argument that the oil industry in Canada should be held accountable for climate change and concurred with it. From the findings the oil industry is responsible to the greatest extent for the resultant extreme weather conditions, rising sea levels, as well as unprecedented temperatures which are cumulatively causing harm to millions and their livelihoods throughout the globe.  However, making one industry to account for changes in climate will not address the inherent challenge successfully. What is required is a collective approach that will hold all industries generating emissions that enhance the “greenhouse effect” thereby contributing to climate change responsible.  Alternatively, developing clean energy sources like wind as well as solar will limit emissions significantly.



IEA. (2015). World Energy Outlook Special Report 2015: Energy and Climate Change. Retrieved April 5th, 2016, from International Energy Agency:

Klein, N. (2014). This Changes Everything: Capitalism Vs. The Climate. Simon and Schuster.

Levi, M. A. (2009). The Canadian Oil Sands: Energy Security Vs. Climate Change. Council on Foreign Relations.

Lopez, V. (2013). Oils Sands Extraction: Lessons From Alberta Can, And Should, Inform American Policy. Pepperdine Policy Review, 6(7).

Rogers, S., & Evans, L. (2011, January 31st). World carbon dioxide emissions data by country: China speeds ahead of the rest. Retrieved April 5th, 2016, from The Guradian :


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