'Dirty diplomacy' by the Canadian government, which wants to keep export markets open to tar sands oil, is threatening international climate legislation – claims campaign group co-founder
The Canadian government is often known in Europe as the friendly northern neighbour of the United States. Canada was first to sign on to the Kyoto Protocol, and led on the international treaty to ban landmines. A staunch steward of the environment and an international champion of human rights, it has been a historical ally.
However, documents acquired through freedom of information requests detail the aggressive lobbying and PR offensive of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government to undermine progressive European climate policy that aims to reduce transport emissions by 6 per cent by 2020. A new report, Dirty Oil Diplomacy – The Canadian Government's Global Push to Sell the Tar Sands
by Climate Action Network Canada, details how Harper's administration is undermining international climate legislation to ensure that all future markets remain open to export its vast deposits of tar sands oil.
The documents reveal that since January 2010, Canada has been engaged in almost daily lobbying of European ministers urging them to reject the fuel quality directive. As part of this pro-tar sands lobby offensive, Canada hosted a two-day retreat in London for Canadian diplomats to receive training on how to respond to the plummeting reputation of the tar sands industry in Europe caused by climate activists and environmental campaigners. Yet, with significant assets in the tar sands, the United Kingdom has been the 'group leader' among European nations to support this attack on EU climate legislation. At the Canada-Europe Energy Roundtable last October, the UK pledged to support Canada in its pursuit to undermine the EU fuel quality directive.
By actively lobbying EU member states to keep the market open to tar sands, the UK has been doing a lot of Canada's dirty diplomacy work. In attendance at these training events for civil servants and diplomats across Europe were like-minded allies such as BP, the Royal Bank of Scotland, Shell, Statoil and Total, all of which have significant investments in tar sands development. The UK was set to vote against the fuel quality directive a few weeks ago. However, due to intense public pressure it switched position at the last minute and abstained. This meant that the vote was a stalemate, further delaying the adoption of this important piece of legislation.
The Canada of the past would have welcomed international action to respond to the growing concern of climate change, which will be the biggest humanitarian threat to our generation. Instead it is thwarting attempts from both the EU and also the US, two of the world's largest transport polluters, to put in place legislation to switch to more sustainable fuels. Luckily, as people in Europe and the US have started to learn more about the real cost to the environment, climate, and communities living downstream from the megaproject, there has been an unexpected stumbling block in the Canadian government's pursuit to become an energy superpower.
For now, the fuel quality directive has withstood this onslaught by the Canadian government and is currently being worked out by the EU environment commissioner. However, the vast resources being mobilised by the Canadian government to undermine the directive mean that the next three months will see an intensification of lobbying and PR efforts by Canada. It is vital that Europe continues with its ambitions to reduce emissions from the most polluting transport fuels on the planet and transition towards a sustainable transport system, rather than cave in to Canada's dirty diplomacy. Suzanne Dhaliwal is co-founder of the UK Tar Sands Network
As far as I am concerned, the EU threw the first punch when they actively sought to demarket Canadian Oil. Climate change and global warming is based on pseudo-science propogated to deindindustrialise the world. That is purpose of carbon taxes in general. If you control carbon, you control industry.
Which is what this is really about, namely the ongoing fight between capitalism and socialism. The socialists thought they had big oil beat with 'peak oil' theories and the invention of global warming. Well capitalism answered with hydro-fracking and bitumen upgrading, foiling the socialists plotting to kill industry. There is one thing that socialism will never take from capitalism, that is ingenuity and the ability to adapt.
Spears - Canada