Commission ignores emissions from tar sands under EU clean fuel standards

Press release - October 7, 2014
Brussels – Oil from tar sands and other high carbon sources would be excluded from fuel carbon accounting under a plan released today by the European Commission, warned Greenpeace.

Clear cutting and deforestation in Alberta's tar sands region releases on average 8.7 megatonnes of CO2 on a yearly basis, which are not accounted for in the calculation of the fuel's climate impacts.

Under the proposal, fuel suppliers would not be required to report highly polluting fuels produced from tar sands and oil shale, even though Commission estimates show that these fuels generate much higher carbon emissions than those produced from conventional crude oil [1]. Sales of these fuels are currently small but expected to rise significantly before 2020 [2].

Greenpeace EU energy and transport policy director Franziska Achterberg said: “This measure will do nothing to stop climate wrecking fuels like tar sands from entering the EU market. It will fail to meet the law’s objective of cleaning up Europe’s transport fuels.”

The Fuel Quality Directive aims to reduce the carbon intensity of road fuels by six percent between 2010 and 2020. Its success crucially depends on how carbon emissions are measured and reported.

The Commission had earlier suggested that fuel suppliers should report high carbon fuels separately from other fuels [3]. But the oil industry has used trade talks with Canada and the US as a vehicle to delay and weaken the law so it does not curtail exports to the EU [4].

Achterberg added: “The Barroso Commission has chosen to put trade deals like TTIP before the environment. This should be a lesson to Juncker and his team. Public opposition will only intensify if he allows trade deals to be used to undermine the EU’s environmental legislation.”    

The Commission’s plan will now be discussed by the European Parliament and EU environment ministers.



[1] For example, the carbon emissions of petrol from tar sands are estimated at 107 gCO2eq/MJ, emissions of petrol from conventional crude at 93.2 gCO2eq/MJ.






Franziska Achterberg – Greenpeace EU energy and transport policy director: +32 (0)498 362403,

Greenpeace EU press desk: +32 (0)2 2741911,


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