European Union & Oil Sands

Ottawa is squaring off with the European Union over the future of the oil sands and how to measure a carbon footprint.


EU/Oil Sands - Satu Hassi

Earlier this week, the Alberta government announced a plan to set aside nearly a quarter of the oil sands region for conservation. The land is about three times the size of Banff National Park and it would become a protected site although oil and gas projects that are already underway would be allowed to continue. That seems unlikely to prevent the European Union from imposing a tough new label on oil coming from the oil sands.

Three years ago, the EU adopted what it calls a "Fuel Quality Directive" aimed at making those who sell and supply fuel reduce the carbon footprint of their products by 6 % over the next decade. So the EU is now ranking fuels to help sellers and of course buyers identify those fuels with the largest carbon footprint.

In line with that the EU is pushing to rate oil sands fuel as more environmentally damaging than fuel from conventional crude oil. The federal government and the government of Alberta are lobbying the EU to try to prevent that from happening.

Earlier this week, the Reuters news agency reported on a leaked letter from the Canadian government. In a document attached to the letter, a Canadian trade official named Mark Richardson says,

Given the desire for freer trade between us, it is important that our individual efforts to address climate change do not lead to the creation of unnecessary barriers.

Many EU politicians including our next guest don't like the tone of Canada's lobbying methods. Satu Hassi is a Green Party Member of the European Parliament, as well as Finland's former Environment Minister. She was in Strasbourg, France.

EU/Oil Sands - Rob Renner

Rob Renner has been listening in. He's Alberta's Environment Minister and he was in Medicine Hat, Alberta.

EU/Oil Sands - Roger Gibbins

For his thoughts on what kind of impact this "carbon-intensive" designation from the EU could have on Canada's energy sector, we were joined by Roger Gibbins, the President and CEO of the Canada West Foundation. He was in Calgary. 

Other segments from today's show:

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