Tar sands campaigners hit back at Canadian lobbying

Posted: 19 December 2011

 A coalition of organisations is calling on the Canadian government to stop sending spokespeople to interfere in EU legislation on fuel policy that could affect the import of oil from Alberta's tar sands.

Canadian Minister of Intergovernmental, International and Aboriginal Relations Cal Dallas has travelled to France, Switzerland and now the United Kingdom to repeat Canada's arguments that the EU's Fuel Quality Directive (FQD) discriminates against Canada's tar sands.

“Canadian tar sands are not getting attention in the EU because we want to discriminate against them or sabotage the Canadian economy,” said UK Tar Sands Network campaigner Suzanne Dhaliwal. “Canada is receiving this attention because of the unprecedented attempts to undermine democratic climate legislation, and the gravity of the environmental destruction and human rights violations taking place to extract tar sands in Canada.”

tar sand
Turning tar and sand into petrol uses three times as much energy as typical oil production. Photo © WWF

The tour was announced three days after an EU member state vote on the current draft of the FQD was postponed, giving the Canadian government another six weeks to try to convince European oil sympathisers that tar sands should not be given a separate value in the directive.

Dirty industry

Emily Coats, also from the UK Tar Sands Network, said, “A sensible way of reining in one of the world's dirtiest industries is being scuppered by the interests of the oil industry and Canadian government. Just last week, Canada pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol, severely tarnishing the government's climate credentials. The Canadian government really isn't where the UK should be turning for advice.”

Dallas's trip is also focusing on “growing Alberta’s presence” in the European energy market. Last week the minister participated in the World Trade Organization (WTO) policy meetings to discuss the “Doha Round” of negotiations, and today will meet the Deputy High Commissioner of Canada to discuss efforts to 'promote Alberta in the UK'.

“People are fed up by the ridiculous greenwash being spouted by these ministers,” said Clayton Thomas-Muller, Tar Sands campaigner with the Indigenous Environmental Network. “The suggestion that tar sands could be considered 'responsible energy production' is ludicrous. Tar sands exploitation is harming First Nations and local communities and accelerating us towards irreversible climate change. The UK government should be supporting the FQD and phasing out tar sands financing, not developing radical new trade avenues with Alberta.”