Nobel Peace laureate calls on the EU to act on dirty oil

Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Prize winner for her work to ban landmines, and Chair of the Nobel Women’s Initiative, spoke today at a press conference in Brussels about the impact of the expansion of tar sands on local communities. She also emphasised the need for EU leadership on curbing the high-energy unconventional fuels that accelerate climate change. Jody Williams met with over 200 women from 13 communities during a recent fact-finding mission to the Alberta tar sands.

Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Prize winner, said: “Tar sands exploitation has already led to the poisoning of water and destruction of land, social problems and cancers and illness in local populations. In a world that is struggling with climate change, moving to high-carbon fuels is a step in the wrong direction. Your decision to say no to dirty oil will send a strong signal to the rest of the world.”
The tar sands in Alberta have been described as the most environmentally destructive industrial project on Earth. Tar sands fuels have greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions up to 49% higher than conventional petrol and diesel. 95% of the water used in tar sands mining is so polluted it has to be stored in toxic sludge pits. 80% of the traditional territories of the First Nation tribes in the Alberta region are inaccessible for periods of a year due to tar sands development. This is disrupting the lives and traditions of 23,000 indigenous people. 
By setting higher carbon values for unconventional fossil fuels, including tar sands, the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD) would send a strong signal to investors that Europe is serious about lower-carbon fuels to power its transport. Given that Europe is the second largest oil market in the world, the FQD would make investments in unconventional oil less attractive and profitable, resulting in global GHG reductions. The governments of Canada and Alberta and oil giants are fiercely lobbying against the implementation of the FQD, and so far have managed to delay it by more than two years.
Jos Dings, Director of Transport & Environment, said: “The science clearly shows that petrol and diesel from tar sands pollute more than fuels from conventional oil. No amount of Canadian lobbying can change that. Unfortunately, this lobbying has achieved a protracted delay in the implementation of the fuel quality law. Mr Barroso and his colleagues in the Commission must stand firm and finally deliver on their promise to fully implement this key climate policy that has been delayed for over two years.”

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Nico Muzi
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