EU classifies tar sands a ‘high greenhouse gas’ source but makes concession to Canada

October 25, 2010

Canada has achieved a partial victory over the EU on the issue of how the environmental impact of transport fuels derived from tar sands should be assessed. The Commission has agreed to delay by a year the greenhouse gas intensity value it gives to tar sands, but it has made clear it views the fuel as a ‘high greenhouse gas intensity’ source.

[mailchimp_signup][/mailchimp_signup]As part of the proposed revision of the EU fuel quality directive, transport fuels are to be assigned values to determine their contribution to climate change over their lifecycle. The aim of the law is to reduce emissions from transport fuels by 10% over the next 10 years. Petrol has been given a value of 85.8g of carbon dioxide per megajoule of fuel, and diesel has been set at 87.4g.

The Commission originally proposed that fuel from tar sands should be given a value of 107g, but following protests from Canada it scrapped the specific value for tar sands. Environmental groups said such a move would defeat the purpose of the fuel quality directive by failing to account for the environmental harm caused by the extraction and processing of tar sands.

The Commission has now opted to leave a value for tar sands out until the end of 2011, while all other fuels should be given their values by the end of this year. A document seen by Reuters news agency reported the Commission says it will now propose by 31 December 2011 ‘how to address high greenhouse gas intensity sources … this proposal shall, in particular, introduce default values for fossil fuels derived from tar sands and oil shale.’

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