Tuesday

22nd Aug 2017

EU faces multiple trade wars defending green policies

  • EU climate targets draw fire from aviation and oil industry (Photo: Mikko Itälahti)

EU measures to cut CO2 emissions and improve the climate have sparked outrage in the global aviation industry and most recently in Canada, home to the world’s second largest fossil fuel reserves.

The Guardian newspaper has revealed that the EU intends to label fuel from tar sands, which would include oil from the Canadian Alberta province, as “highly polluting” in a vote in an expert committee dealing with energy issues on Thursday (23 February). The label could render extraction and exploitation of the tar sands more difficult and more expensive.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The move follows a decision by the European Commission in October to qualify tar sands as a quarter more CO2 polluting than crude oil. The EU executive is also preparing a draft bill that would require suppliers to reduce transport-fuel carbon emissions.

Canada’s ambassador to the EU and its oil minister has warned the new labelling may spark a trade war. A letter sent to EU commissioners in December stated “Canada will not hesitate to defend its interests, including at the World Trade Organisation.”

According to the Albertan government, the province ranks third after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela in terms of proven crude oil reserves and generated €2.8 billion in royalties from oil sands projects in 2011. As a whole, the industry was worth €8.6 billion in 2009 and employs some 140,000 people.

The tar sands, a wide expanse of heavy molasses-like bitumen seeping to the surface in Canada’s western province of Alberta, is described by environmental groups as one that accelerates climate change and destroys surrounding communities.

Both the Canadian and Albertan governments announced an oil sands research agreement last Thursday (16 February) that they claim would help reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

Aviation industry in Moscow

Separately, nations opposing the EU’s green tax on all airlines operating in Europe are meeting in Moscow on Tuesday (21 February) to discuss countermeasures.

The Emissions Trade Scheme (ETS) was launched on 1 January this year and aims to help Europe achieve its goal of cutting emissions by 20 percent by 2020, with aviation accounting for about 3 percent of the EU's total greenhouse gases.

The United States, China, India and Russia along with 22 countries oppose ETS which they claim is illegal and too expensive as it forces to airlines to help pay for pollution.

On Monday, climate change commissioner Connie Hedegaard proposed that the disgruntled countries come up with another plan.

"We know what you don't like, but what's your constructive proposal for a global agreement on aviation?” she posted on her Twitter account.

Hedegaard quoted China Daily which said any attempt to launch “a full-scale trade war against the EU merely for the sake of China’s aviation industry interests” would be unwise.

China is flat-out refusing to comply with the new rules and banned its airlines from increasing fees to absorb the tax in February. Beijing says Chinese airlines would have to pay an additional €97 million per year.

The meeting in Moscow ends on Wednesday.

China confronts EU on aviation tax

China has banned its airlines from taking part in Europe's Emissions Trading System, which forces all airlines flying in and out of Europe from 1 January this year to buy pollution permits.

EU to put higher pollution price on tar sands

The European Commission on Tuesday proposed that oil derived from tar sands be given a higher greenhouse-gas emission value, a move slammed as "unjustified" and "discriminatory" by Canada, the world's largest producer of this fossil fuel.

Egg scare prompts review of EU alert systems

Health ministers' meeting called to discuss improvements to EU alert systems, but Danish and French authorities said pesticide levels in eggs too low to harm people.

EU cautious with German diesel plan

The European Commission welcomed the German carmakers' pledge to update software in diesel cars, but is waiting for details on how emissions will be reduced.

News in Brief

  1. Austria has begun checks at Italian border
  2. Slovenian PM: Brexit talks will take longer than expected
  3. Merkel backs diesel while report warns of economic harm
  4. UK to publish new Brexit papers this week
  5. Macedonia sacks top prosecutor over wiretap scandal
  6. ECB concerned stronger euro could derail economic recovery
  7. Mixed Irish reactions to post-Brexit border proposal
  8. European Union returns to 2 percent growth

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressEuropean Governments Must Take Stronger Action Against Terrorism
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  3. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  4. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  5. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  6. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  9. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  11. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  12. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference