Press Release

EU takes important step towards cleaner fossil fuels

October 04, 2011

T&E has welcomed a European Commission decision to promote cleaner sources of fossil fuels for transport.

[mailchimp_signup][/mailchimp_signup]Article 7a of the Fuel Quality Directive adopted in 2009 set a binding target to cut CO2 emissions from transport fuel production by 6% by 2020. The Commission’s original plan to introduce a specific CO2 rating for fuels produced from polluting tar sands looked set to be dropped after an unprecedented lobbying campaign by the Canadian government and oil interests(1). However, the Commission has now reverted to its original plan and included individual values for different sources of fossil fuels, including tar sands, in a proposal outlining the detailed implementation of the law. (2) The effect of the CO2 ratings will be to provide an incentive to dirty fossil fuel producers to clean up their act if they want to compete with cleaner sources on the European market.

Jos Dings, director of Transport & Environment, said:
“With this decision the EU is sending a signal to the oil industry that dirty fuels should clean up or stay away. If member states give this proposal the green light, producers will have a real incentive to invest in cleaner technologies and to stop dirty habits such as flaring. The Commission, and in particular, the climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard should be applauded for not backing down in the face of huge pressure from Canada and the oil industry.”

The proposal still needs to be approved by national governments in the coming months.

The European Parliament has already pledged its support with a resolution earlier this year raising concerns about tar sands in the context of EU-Canada trade negotiations. A petition against tar sands, containing over 20,000 signatures, was presented to the Parliament in March 2011. (4)

(1)The Canadian state of Alberta has some of the world’s largest reserves of oil but extracting it is incredibly energy intensive, polluting and leads to destruction of large areas of pristine wilderness.

(2) Other sources of fossil fuels that get a separate value from conventional oil are coal to liquid, gas to liquid, shale oil and plastic fuel.