Harper government opposes EU's labelling of tar sands

After coming under fire from the Canadian government, the European Union (EU) is defending its labelling of the tar sands as 22 per cent more polluting than other forms of crude oil extraction.

This label was issued as part of the EU’s Fuel Quality Directive, a plan to reduce transportation-related carbon emissions. On October 23, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver released an open letter addressed to the EU.

In the letter, Oliver states that “Any proposed implementing measure that provides separate, more onerous treatment for oil sands derived crude oil  relative to other crude oils with similar or higher GHG emissions intensities is discriminatory, and potentially violates the European Union’s international trade obligations.”

Despite Oliver’s letter, EU Climate Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard maintains that the label is based on scientific fact, not political motivations.

“We have the knowledge and the fact that the oil sands are more CO2-polluting than other kinds of fuel,” Hedegaard said in a press conference last Thursday in Brussels. “It’s nothing targeted against this particular fuel. We are doing that with all our different biofuels. It’s the same methodology that we are applying for different things in the same directive.”

Although Canada has been supported in its opposition to the label by both the United Kingdom and Estonia, there are some Canadians who disagree with Oliver.

Gillian McEachern, Climate and Energy program manager for Environmental Defence, a Toronto-based environmental action organization, spoke to The Daily over the phone.

“Time and again scientific studies have shown the tar sands to be more polluting than other forms of crude oil extraction,” she said. “It’s really just calling a spade a spade… Minister Oliver’s letter won’t hold water.”

In his letter, Oliver wrote that the label appears to punish Canada for promoting greater transparency in its carbon emissions records.

Internet site reference: http://www.mcgilldaily.com/2011/10/canada-opposes-eus-labelling-of-tar-sands/


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