MOSCOW, August 11 (RIA Novosti) - The $7 billion Keystone XL Canada-US pipeline is expected to result in four times more greenhouse gas emissions than previously calculated by the US State Department, according to new estimates published by the journal Nature Climate Change.
"Our simple model shows that, to the extent that Keystone XL leads to greater oil sands production, the pipeline's effect on oil prices could substantially increase its total GHG [greenhouse gas] impact," Peter Erickson and Michael Lazarus, scientists at the Stockholm Environment Institute, wrote in their study.
"The State Department's assessment has overlooked the pipeline's potentially most significant GHG impact: increasing oil consumption as the result of increasing supplies and lowering prices," the scientists added.
In their report, “Impact of the Keystone XL pipeline on global oil markets and greenhouse gas emissions,” Erickson and Lazarus used a mathematical model to predict the pipeline’s pollution possibilities. According to the scientists, the US State Department’s numbers are inaccurate because they did not consider additional demand for oil as the pipeline would see prices for oil drop by about $3 a barrel.
The mathematical model Erickson and Lazarus used takes into account a potential consumption increase using basic supply-and-demand economic logic. The new numbers predict greenhouse gas emissions of 100 million to 110 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) per year.
For every barrel of increased production, global oil consumption would increase by 0.6 barrels, resulting in much lower prices. A predicted boost in consumption would result in an increase of up to 121 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions, according to Erickson and Lazarus.
"Lower fuel prices are bad if they don't include all of the social costs," Wesleyan University environmental economist Gary Yohe wrote in an email to AP, praising the new numbers. "Consumers are happy, but the planet is not necessarily," he added.
Experts gave the new report mixed reviews. University of Sussex economist, Richard Tol dismissed the estimates, claiming the estimated increase is nothing compared to the 36 billion tons of carbon dioxide the world released into the air in 2013. He claimed, in an email to AP, that the Canada-US pipeline is only a small contributor to the overall climate change situation.
Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution of Washington admitted the potential emissions are small, but the greater concern is the increase of emissions in general, AP reported.
"Our national interest would be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution," US President Barack Obama said in a speech on climate change at Georgetown University in June 2013. The State Department declined to comment on new findings, AP reported.
The Keystone Pipeline System is an oil pipeline stretching from Canada to the United States from Alberta, Canada, to US refineries in Nebraska, Illinois and Texas. Three phases of the project are in progress while the fourth is awaiting US government approval. If completed, the pipeline would span 2,151 miles (3,462 kilometers).