A typical comment around Canadian water coolers and message boards, when the topic of the BP environmental disaster in the Gulf arises, is: "yeah it's a tragedy but the Alberta oil sands are looking better every day."
Whooaa... not so fast there.
A new report claims that "Canada's Oil Sands Face Significant Financial and Environmental Risks as Great as Those in BP Spill"
The report was commissioned by Ceres and authored by RiskMetrics Group.
At the press conference announcing the report May 17, Ceres President Mindy Lubber said, "The risks for companies involved in developing Canada's oil sands are arguably greater than those in the Gulf of Mexico,"
The report cites numerous risks, including pricing, market conditions, transportation obstacles, water and other resource shortages, first nations issues and the mounting costs and liability connected with land reclamation.
Even without considering environ- mental factors, pricing alone is a potential game breaker. If the price of oil is too low, the oil sands then become uneconomical. But, if the price goes too high, alternative sustainable energy sources suddenly become extremely viable.
What the Gulf situation tells us is that the unthinkable does happen and if something can go wrong it will.
Ceres is leading coalition of investors, environmental groups and other public interest groups working with companies to address sustainability challenges such as climate change. Ceres also directs the Investor Network on Climate Risk, a network of 90 institutional investors with $10 trillion of collective assets focused on the business impacts of climate change.
About RiskMetrics Group
RiskMetrics is a leading provider of risk management and corporate governance services. Its ESG Analytics Group analyzes cutting edge issues like climate change, water and ecosystem services that support the global economy.