“UK should get off the fence over tar sands”

The Government yesterday ducked a crucial European vote to treat tar sands as a “dirty” fuel.


Tar Sands deposits in Canada are situated beneath boreal forest and are extracted using devastating industrial processes which are estimated to be three to five times more carbon intensive than those for more traditional forms of oil.  Extracting the oil will mean destroying a wilderness area larger than the state of Florida. Despite this the EU has come under pressure to label the fuel in the same category as conventional oil.


Officials from EU Member States voted on a proposal which would label different fuels with their carbon footprint. David Cameron’s representative abstained.


This proposal would make imports of highly polluting fuels like tar sands less attractive for fuel suppliers, who are under an obligation to reduce the carbon footprint of the fuel they sell at the pump.


After the overall vote ended in stalemate, the decision will now be referred to Government Ministers in the coming months.


Euro MP Peter Skinner, who has been supporting a campaign led by Lush cosmetics said:

It would be irresponsible to encourage the exploitation of a ‘dirty fuel’ source which is significantly more polluting than conventional oil and would result in the destruction of a unique wilderness.


“It’s taken three years to get this proposal on the table against opposition from vested interests. This decision should have been made more than a year ago but the British Government are shilly-shallying when they should be taking a lead.


“I want David Cameron to get off the fence. Instead of promoting dirty jobs abroad, he should be promoting new low carbon industries in the UK. Sectors like low carbon car manufacturing are set to boom and we should be seizing those opportunities.”

Editor’s notes:

EU vote on tar sands law expected on 23 February– Reuters

“European Union officials are expected to vote on February 23 on a draft law that would label fuel produced from tar sands as more polluting than that from other forms of oil, according to a draft agenda seen by Reuters. The proposal from the EU’s executive to include tar sands in a ranking designed to enable fuel suppliers to identify the most carbon-intensive options has stirred up intense lobbying by Canada. Previous EU meetings have repeatedly failed to get as far as a vote, but the agenda for a fifth meeting of the fuel quality committee later this month schedules a vote on an amendment to the Fuel Quality Directive proposed by the European Commission. EU sources close to the talks said a stalemate is likely, with no majority either way”


One comment on ““UK should get off the fence over tar sands”

  1. Thanks for your clear stance on this issue – I’m 100% with you, is the Labour Party?
    Having been part of the lobby which help bring about the UK abstention, what is my most time/cost effective next step? Do you as MEP have any influence on this issue?

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