EU Opens Up Import of Canadian Tar Sands Oil After Dropping Dirtier Label

- Leadership - Oct 09, 2014

The European Commission is abandoning plans to label Canadian tar sands as ‘dirtier’ than other sources of crude oil, opening the door to import of the controversial resource.

It’s rumoured that part of the reasoning for dropping the tar sands clause is the EU’s increasing uncertainty over the future of Russian energy exports with respect to tensions centred on the Ukrainian crisis.

While the EU’s green agenda is admired by some and the cause of frustration for others in the world of business, this U-turn will likewise represent a betrayal of sustainable principles and motion of common sense at the same time.  

Canadian tar sands were to be labelled as 25 percent more carbon intensive, although Canada’s government threatened to appeal to the World Trade Organisation had this gone through.

Though the proposal still has to be approved by EU member states before being passed onto the European Parliament, one of the biggest barriers to Canada exporting its oil sands looks to have been cleared.

Currently heavily dependent on Russian fuels, this isn’t the first time Europe’s leaders have been accused of putting energy forecasts ahead of pending legislation. On July 8, the Washington Post published a leaked EU document that all but insisted the U.S. share oil produced in its vast and expanding fracking operations as a precondition on the passage of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

“The current crisis in Ukraine confirms the delicate situation faced by the EU with regard to energy dependence,” the EU document reads. “Of course the EU will continue working on its own energy security and broaden its strategy of diversification. But such an effort begins with its closest allies.”

The debate within the EU over tar sands being a viable future source of energy stretches back to 2009, and last month Canada's Suncor shipped its first tanker-load of western Canadian heavy crude from Canada's East Coast to Europe. 

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