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Has Great Britain just given its strongest show of support for importing Canadian tar sands?
Greenpeace managed to acquire leaked papers regarding EU negotiations on laws that will encourage low carbon transport fuels, and they show that the UK has rejected all suggestions that may class the tar sands as more polluting than crude oil, or other traditional fuels.
Studies have found that oil from tar sands produces 20% more greenhouse gases than conventional crude, and in their fuel quality directive the EU wants to classify it as “highly polluting,” a move that would persuade countries to search for alternatives.
In the negotiations the EU suggest six options about how to implement the fuel quality directive. The UK chose the only two options that would not differentiate between the carbon content of the fuels, and flatly rejected all other possibilities.
In the leaked documents the UK justified their decision by stating that “based on the findings so far, it seems clear that these two seem to meet the policy aims of the directive with the least risks of unexpected consequences.”
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Charlie Kronick, a senior climate campaigner at Greenpeace, has angrily said that, “if you're not serious about keeping tar sands oil out of Europe, then you're not serious about climate change. This could be the biggest decision Norman Baker will make in his entire career, and right now he's on the wrong side of the science and the wrong side of history.”
However, Norman Baker, the undersecretary at the Department for Transport , has simply stated that Greenpeace is wrong, and that the UK is still very much committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
“We continue to encourage the commission to consider and assess options which account for the carbon intensity of all crude oils, including Canadian oil sands. I take this issue seriously and that is why I have arranged to meet Jim Hansen (NASA climate scientist and outspoken critic of the tar sands) this week to discuss the matter,” he said.
By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com