The EU is under pressure from Canada to accept climate-wrecking tar sands oil. The question is, will Europe buckle?
Canada sits on the world’s 3rd biggest estimated oil reserve, but much of it is locked up in tar sands. Extracting it is very destructive, as aerial photography reveals. Compared to conventional fuel, tar sands produce 23 percent more climate emissions, Stanford University found in a report for the European Commission.
The Commission duly proposed to in effect bar tar sands imports to Europe under its Fuel Quality Directive. Most EU countries seem to agree this is the right thing to do but are under massive pressure from Canada and its commonwealth partner Britain to fight such a law.
With Europe’s “most ambitious” ever free trade deal hanging in the balance and news that a major pipeline project bringing tar sands oil to North America has been shelved by president Obama, pressure on European policymakers is growing. Environment ministers were due to vote on the issue in June, but the decision has been delayed until early 2013.
NASA's James Hansen says tar sands development would mean "game over" for the climate. Environmental organisations argue that tar sands fuel is even more climate-damaging than normal fuel and should be barred from Europe. The EU should be weaning itself off oil-based fuels and turning to clean renewable energy.
To stop the most devastating impacts of climate change, global demand for oil must peak before 2020 and then decline over today’s levels.
For more information, feel free to contact Greenpeace EU transport policy adviser on 0032 (0)2 274 1918.