Leaked papers show UK government will backtrack on tar sands extraction being classified as highly pollutingPosted by Jim at Friday, May 17, 2013
By Lorna Howarth
17 May 2013
(The Ecologist) – The UK government has come under fire this week from both NGOs and scientists for rejecting an EU proposal to classify tar sands under the European Fuel Quality Directive (FQD) as ‘highly polluting’ – despite the fact research has shown that oil produced from the Canadian tar sands emits 3-4 times more greenhouse gases than does conventional oil.
It follows the week’s visit of high profile Canadian Ministers Joe Oliver and Peter Kent who flew to London as part of a pan-European mission to promote the Canadian tar sands industry and lobby against the FQD.
Kent, who is the Canadian Environment Minister, is on record as saying “Climate change is a very real and present danger and we need to address it.”
Extracting oil from the Canadian tar sands – the biggest industrial project on earth – is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada and indeed, is the primary reason why Canada will fail to meet its own greenhouse gas reduction targets.
So it must be disconcerting for Canadians to see this major disconnect in their Environment Minister’s thinking. Likewise, it is equally disconcerting for UK citizens to see their own Under Secretary of State for Transport, Norman Baker, displaying the same inability to connect the dots.
As Jess Worth, from the UK Tar Sands Network points out: “Norman Baker says he supports a Fuel Quality Directive that takes emissions from tar sands into account. But if this is the case, why does the recently-leaked document clearly state that the UK government says it 'prefers' to lump tar sands in with all other sources of oil? At the moment it looks like Baker is toeing the oil industry line on this matter.”
The leaked document referred to by Jess Worth was published on the Greenpeace ‘EnergyDesk’ website earlier this week. It showed that the UK government is set to change its position and push the EU to allow the import of carbon-intensive oils from the Tar Sands despite it being 23% more polluting than conventional fuels, thus making a mockery of the EU FQD. There will be another vote on the FQD later in 2013. [more]