The battle to open up Europe to Canadian tar sands

Background - November 15, 2011
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 per cent more climate emissions, aacording to a Stanford University report for the European Commission. Further development of the resource would mean game over for the climate, Professor James Hansen has warned.

A tar sands operation in former boreal forest north of Fort McMurray, Canada.

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.

For now, the EU Directive is stalled. EU governments voted on its implementation in February 2012 without result. The European Commission then decided to back up its proposal with a new study.

This impact assessment has been finalised, and there is no reason for further delays. They would only help Canada and Big Oil to ignore the Directive and exploit ever dirtier sources of fuel, which must stay in the ground if we are to have any chance to reign in runaway climate change.

For more information, feel free to contact Greenpeace EU transport policy adviser on 0032 (0)2 274 1918.