Encouraging lower carbon intensity

November 10, 2011

T&E's Nusa Urbancic writes in today's edition of the Financial Times: The FT accuses the European Union fuel quality directive of being an “attempt to single out Canada’s oil as uniquely dangerous”. Poppycock. To do so would be political insanity, not to mention illegal.

The EU law encourages oil producers the world over to lower the carbon intensity of their products. It could lead to reduced venting and flaring (though the FT says otherwise), carbon capture at coal-to-liquid facilities, and improvements in the efficiency of tar sand processing. Which of course is where Canada comes in.

Canada says it is working to lower the environmental impact of its tar sand-derived oil. Great. The EU law says that any supplier of carbon-intensive fuels can apply for a revised carbon value if they prove they have a more efficient extraction and production process. Tar sands producers in Alberta could gain a competitive advantage over, say, Venezuelan or Russian competitors if they make investments to bring down emissions. That’s basically the point. Surely the FT can agree that market competition in cutting carbon is better than an outright ban?