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Nobel Peace Laureates ask Harper to stop tar sands development

Eight Nobel Peace Laureates today asked Prime Minister Stephen Harper to halt expansion of the tar sands and to move Canada toward clean energy.

The appeal was organized by the Nobel Women's Initiative, comprising the six women who have won the Peace Prize.

The Laureates' letter to Harper said, in part:

You have a privileged opportunity to help lead Canadians towards a better future. Canada is a great country and it can rise to the challenge. In fact, there are already powerful signs of progress in the fight against climate change in Canada.

The Province of Ontario, for instance, is on course to phase out the use of coal by 2014 and has adopted what is probably the single most effective piece of legislation promoting renewable energy in North America. This kind of action takes vision and know-how—and shows the strong potential for Canada to be a world leader in tackling climate change.

As you know, further exploitation of the tar sands will dramatically increase the amount of greenhouse gas emissions being produced in North America. It will also ultimately make turning the clock back on climate change impossible. But you have a choice. You can use the powers that you have to halt the expansion of the tar sands and put Canada on course to do its fair share to address climate change.

This decision requires some tough choices, but in the long run—and for the sake of all future citizens who do not have a say in the decisions we make today—it is the right thing to do.

Among those signing the letter were Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, Jody Williams of the USA, and Shirin Ebadi of Iran.

In a news release, the Nobel Women's Initiative noted that the Laureates two weeks ago urged President Barack Obama to reject the permit that would allow bitumen from the tar sands to be piped to the Gulf of Mexico. They also acknowledged the nonviolent civil-disobedience demonstrations on Parliament Hill two days ago.

Crawford Kilian is a contributing editor of The Tyee.

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