Monday, July 06, 2015

UNESCO weighs in on the Canadian oil sands

In yet another black eye for Canada's international environmental reputation, the respected United Nations environmental agency UNESCO has publicly warned against development of the Alberta oil sands.
In particular, they point to possible contamination of nearby Wood Buffalo National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site which straddles the Alberta-NWT border. Following up on a petition filed by the Mikisew Cree First Nation, UNESCO has requested that Canada “not take any decision related to any of the development projects that would be difficult to reverse”, and requested that it submit environmental assessments to the world heritage centre.
UNESCO has not yet withdrawn Wood Buffalo's world heritage status, or even designated it as "in danger", but the threat is certainly there. Such a move would of course be highly embarrassing for Canada, and the Harper government has been quick to agree to work with UNESCO on an assessment.
It is embarrassing enough that a Canadian First Nations band has to resort to an international agency like UNESCO to get some action on environmental matters of this magnitude.

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