April 8th, 2011
Ottawa – The Canadian government should stop lobbying the European Parliament and European Commission to weaken a popular EU climate measure aimed at reducing the carbon content of transportation fuels, say Canadian civil society groups in a letter sent to Harper government officials today.
The letter is in response to news that the Harper government has again threatened to take the EU’s Fuel Quality Directive to the World Trade Organization if it contains higher carbon content values for tar sands derived crude than conventional fuel. It was sent today in advance of a seventh round of Canada-EU negotiations on a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement beginning in Ottawa this Monday. Briefing notes attained under freedom of information laws have confirmed that CETA negotiations have been a venue for the Canadian government’s campaign to undermine the popular EU Fuel Quality Directive (FQD).
“The European Union has popular and scientific support for its new fuel quality rules. They are rightly trying to phase out dirty fuel, which will absolutely have to include the Alberta tar sands,” says Andrea Harden-Donahue, Energy and Climate Justice Campaigner with the Council of Canadians.
The letter highlights a number of lobbying efforts including two letters sent by the Canadian Ambassador in Brussels, Ross Hornby, to the head the European Commission’s Environment Department, and a letter from a senior official at Natural Resources Canada. The issue has also been raised at a meeting between EU President Jose Manuel Barroso and Prime Minister Harper. While these efforts suggest little scientific basis for attributing tar sands as a high carbon crude, a recent study prepared for the European Commission adds to the significant body of scientific research confirming that the tar sands have a heavier carbon footprint.
“It’s disturbing enough to think that the Government of Canada is running around the world acting like a lobbyist for the oil industry, but it’s appalling that what this means in practice is that they are attacking clean energy policy in other countries,” said Graham Saul, Executive Director of Climate Action Network Canada.
“Indigenous peoples who live in the midst of massive tar sands extraction have seen their human rights and way of life trampled upon by Canadian energy policy,” adds Clayton Thomas-Muller, Tar Sands Campaigner of the Indigenous Environmental Network.
“This pattern of lobbying the EU to weaken climate policy is unacceptable. Further, trade agreements and rules should not be allowed to override social and environmental priorities,” says the letter. “Rather than lobby to weaken the efforts of other countries, the Canadian government should focus on efforts that reduce emissions, support green jobs expansion and better regulate the serious social and environmental consequences of tar sands development.”
For more information:
To see the letter, please click here.
Dylan Penner, media officer, Council of Canadians, 613-795-8685, twitter: @CouncilofCDNs
Graham Saul, Executive Director of Climate Action Network Canada, 613-558-3368
Clayton-Thomas-Muller, Tar Sands Campaigner, Indigenous Environmental Network, 613-297-7515