Tag Archives: Carbon

European officials face key vote this Thursday to keep dirty tar sands out of Europe

EU officials face a key decision this Thursday to officially label Canadian tar sands oil a heavily polluting fuel, which could help to keep dirty oil out of Europe. This would be the case if officials VOTE YES on proposed changes to the European Fuel Quality Directive (FQD). Canadian oil representatives have been fiercely lobbying countries like the UK, France, and the Netherlands to ‘vote no’, a blocking move that would keep us locked into a cycle of reliance on ever dirtier fossil fuels. Those promoting Canadian tar sands are re-contextualising isolated studies as their industry faces a brick wall in Europe. But the majority of scientific evidence shows that Canadian tar sands oil should be rated as highly polluting because it generates more emissions than crude oil, and the extraction process causes extensive regional damage to habitat.

EU Commissioner Hedegaard explains that in the FQD ‘the Commission identified the most carbon-intensive sources in its science-based proposal. This way high-emission fossil fuels will be labelled and given the proper value. It is only reasonable to give high values to more polluting products than to less polluting products’. Many different parties want officials to VOTE YES to the proposal including Nobel Peace Prize laureatesyouth coalitions, and environmental campaigners.

Scientific studies provide strong evidence in support of a YES VOTE on the FQD. For instance a Stanford study focusing specifically on Canadian tar sands imports to Europe concluded that emissions from tar sands production are ‘significantly different enough from conventional oil emissions that regulatory frameworks should address this discrepancy’. Another study by MIT shows that using Canadian Tar Sands in the transport network, in regions like Europe, will increase overall greenhouse gas emissions and offset any gains made through low-carbon vehicle development. Beyond academia the environmental devastation caused by tar sands extraction is well documented, and exemplified by the indigenous Beaver Lake Cree People who are currently suing the Canadian government for turning their boreal homeland into a ‘Toxic wilderness’.

View of the 'toxic wilderness'

Due to economic implications, Canada and its oil lobby have been working hard to block the FQD. They are working behind the scenes to coerce oil interests in countries like the UK to influence the vote in their favour. They are cynically invoking a ‘trade war’ to try and incite fear. And this week they have been misrepresenting science to cloud the facts on tar sands emissions and confuse support for the FQD. Fortunately, the lobbying has been exposed, the FQD is ‘justified’ under WTO rules, and the misrepresentations of science are being comprehensively addressed. Therefore we have solid ground on which to appeal for European leaders to avoid ‘climate schizophrenia’ and push for a YES VOTE on Thursday.

If you want to support a YES VOTE then simply click here.

More on the Oily Manipulation of the Swart and Weaver study:

A study released yesterday is being used inaccurately by climate denialists and the oil lobby against the authors’ general stance, to claim that emissions from tar sands are insignificant. The argument being touted is that if we burned all our coal reserves the resulting emissions would be greater than those from burning all our known tar sands deposits, ergo, exploiting tar sands is not a problem. Leading NASA scientist James Hansen analogises this argument, he says that sure ‘smoking six packs a day is going to kill you. But if you want to make certain you die, smoke a hundred packs a day’. The Weaver study admittedly does not account for emissions associated with extraction processes. When adding so called ‘wheel to wheel’ emissions the authors calculated that emissions from tar sands can be increased by 17% from the estimate that was compared with coal emissions. This means that exploiting the known quantities of tar sands oil will raise the planet’s temperature by .4 degrees Celsius alone. Weaver himself has publicly urged people not to use this study as evidence to support tar sands development, a process which he directly opposes on grounds of greenhouse gas emission, and environmental degradation.

This is the man who -according to the Oil Lobby- thinks tar sands are no big deal…

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Canadian tar sands lobby coat British officials in sticky residue of deceit

Another day, another lobbying scandal to embarrass the government…

Protest Outside DEFRA

Following on from yesterday’s lobbying expose – video footage which showed PR firm Bell Pottinger boasting about their influence over Cameron and Osbourne in the corridors of power – a batch of documents have been released which highlight how the Canadian oil lobby is putting pressure on the British government to represent its economic interests in the EU.

Athabasca Tar Sands, Canada: Desolation

The relationship between dirty Canadian tar sands oil and the UK has previously been uncovered (see Greenpeace and The Guardian).  The UK is being used by the Canadian oil lobby to delay a key proposal to the EU Fuel Quality Directive (FQD), which aims to prevent environmentally catastrophic tar sands oil flooding the European markets. The Canadians are desperate to stop this proposal as it will set a global precedent which could effect existing and future markets for their oil exports.

The rub is that the oil lobby are barefaced lying to UK officials who seem happy to accept misinformation and continue to back Canadian assertions that any regulation distinguishing tar sands oil from other forms of crude is arbitrary, un-scientific, and unworkable. Highlighting this is a UK Foreign Office report discussing a meeting with Canadian lobbyist Sushma Gera in which the tar sands advocates clearly state that similar legislation to the FQD proposal completely failed in the US. This is simply untrue, and when US officials discovered that their successful Low Carbon Fuel Standard was being slandered by the oil lobby, they wrote directly to the EU commission in support of the FQD proposal, and explained exactly how they had been misrepresented by Geera.

Canadian Tar Sands: Ecocide

The fact that the MP in charge of the UK position on tar sands in Europe, Lib Dem Norman Baker, continues to defend Canadian interests outright despite a swathe of lobbying revelations is appalling. MEP, spokesman for the environment, and fellow Lib Dem Chris Davies has denounced Baker and the UK government for being ‘extraordinarily naïve’ over this issue. It is clear that political discontent on this issue is growing inside the coalition, as well as beyond it.

Political squabbling can only be a good thing in the run up to the crucial EU vote on the FQD proposal in January. We need as many provocateurs as possible holding this government to public account over its promises of green governance and transparency. Because if the UK becomes the political gateway to Europe for tar sands oil under a regime of back-room trickery, then not only the British government, but those with a voice to speak out will have also failed and played a part in detonating the next great carbon bomb.

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