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Europe strikes a blow against tar sands dirty oil

October 4, 2011

In response to today’s recommendation by the European Commission to reflect the tar sand's high greenhouse gas content in the EU’s proposed Fuel Quality Directive, Graham Saul, Executive Director of Climate Action Network Canada, has responded as follows:

“The Canadian government has been working relentlessly to kill clean energy policies such as the Fuel Quality Directive in an effort to promote the short term interests of big oil. This precedent setting proposal from the European Commission sends a clear signal that no amount of aggressive lobbying can counter the scientific fact that the tar sands are one of the world’s dirtiest fuels. We applaud the European Commission for its integrity and sticking to the science when it comes to greenhouse gas pollution from the tar sands.”

More information (source: Transport and Environment)

Article 7a of the Fuel Quality Directive adopted in 2009 set a binding target to cut CO2 emissions from transport fuel production by 6% by 2020.   The Commission’s original plan to introduce a specific CO2 rating for fuels produced from polluting tar sands looked set to be dropped after an unprecedented lobbying campaign by the Canadian government and oil interests(1).  However, the Commission has now reverted to its original plan and included individual values for different sources of fossil fuels, including tar sands, in a proposal outlining the detailed implementation of the law. (2) The effect of the CO2 ratings will be to provide an incentive to dirty fossil fuel producers to clean up their act if they want to compete with cleaner sources on the European market.

The proposal still needs to be approved by national governments in the coming months.  

(1)The Canadian state of Alberta has some of the world’s largest reserves of oil but extracting it is incredibly energy intensive, polluting and leads to destruction of large areas of pristine wilderness.

(2) Other sources of fossil fuels that get a separate value from conventional oil are coal to liquid, gas to liquid, shale oil and plastic fuel.


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Hannah McKinnon