Monday

1st May 2017

EU appears to back down on Canada's tar sands

  • Tar sands extraction in Fort McMurray, Canada (Photo: CanadaGood)

EU climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard appears to have temporarily backed down from plans to make reference to Canada's controversial tar sands in the EU's upcoming directive on fuel quality.

As recently as June, the commission's climate directorate had suggested that figures estimating the energy efficiency of the fuel would be included in this December's proposal, along with an array of data on other fuels such as petrol and hydrogen.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

But a leaked a draft seen by Reuters on Monday (4 October) appears to confirm earlier reports that tar oil will be left out of the list, with angry environmentalists blaming pressures within the commission, as well as from Canada.

Canada had feared that inclusion of the tar sands in the EU's forthcoming fuel quality directive would amount to a prohibitive barrier against trade, with the two sides currently negotiating a free-trade agreement.

Sources say Canada's mission to the European Union has been active in lobbying on the issue, with the tar sands in the North American country's Alberta region estimated to be the second largest reserve in the world after those under Saudi Arabia.

The commission's trade department is also thought to have been unhappy with the inclusion of tar oils on the list.

But environmental groups point to the large amount of energy needed to extract the oil from the sediment in which it lies, arguing that future imports would go against the EU's plans to reduce transport CO2 emissions by 10 percent on 1990 levels over the next decade.

Instead, the draft text suggests the tar sands will be evaluated at some point before December 2011, a year later than previously anticipated, with the commission justifying the decision to leave the fuel out on the basis of a lack of scientific data.

The omission has produced alarm however.

"We see the commission as unwilling to include a value on oil sands, even though they have a value," Greenpeace transport policy advisor Franziska Achterberg told this website. "We think the value should be included and if it needs to be renewed in a year then it can be."

Although almost no tar oil is imported into the EU at present, environmental lobbies say this is set to change with the building of a pipeline from Canada's Alberta region to the Gulf of Mexico.

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.

EU boasts unity on Brexit talks

EU leaders adopted the bloc's guidelines for the UK exit negotiations that will start in June, amid concerns that France could elect a president that would try to take it out of the EU.

Column / Brexit Briefing

May’s election juggernaut

The prime minister's Tories almost need not bother campaigning for the June election. There is no opposition worthy of the name.

Investigation

Alte Freundschaft zwischen Le Pen und Putin

Le Pen traf Putin dreimal, nicht einmal, wie berichtet wurde. Aber wieviel Geld bekam ihre Partei und an welche Bedingungen war es geknüpft?

News in Brief

  1. Vote of no confidence prepared against Spanish PM
  2. Syria to buy Russian anti-missile system
  3. Germany seeks partial burka ban
  4. Libya has no plan to stop migration flows
  5. EU has no evidence of NGO-smuggler collusion in Libya
  6. Poland gets 'final warning' on logging in ancient forest
  7. Commission gives Italy final warning on air pollution
  8. Romania and Slovenia taken to court over environment policies

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCharlotte Hornets' Nicolas Batum Tells Kids to "Eat Well, Drink Well, Move!"
  2. ECR GroupSyed Kamall: We Need a New, More Honest Relationship With Turkey
  3. Counter BalanceParliament Sends Strong Signal to the EIB: Time to Act on Climate Change
  4. ACCARisks and Opportunities of Blockchain and Shared Ledgers Technologies in Financial Services
  5. UNICEFRace Against Time to Save Millions of Lives in Yemen
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  7. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  8. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  9. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  10. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  11. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  12. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process

Latest News

  1. EU boasts unity on Brexit talks
  2. May’s election juggernaut
  3. EPP scolds Orban over university and NGO laws
  4. Oxford-Studie besorgt über 'Schrott' News in Frankreich
  5. Alte Freundschaft zwischen Le Pen und Putin
  6. EP chief faces questions after homophobic 'summit'
  7. EU signals Northern Ireland could join if united with Ireland
  8. One year later: EU right to open internet still virtual