Kriton Aresenis, a member of the European Parliament, part of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, arrived in Ottawa yesterday for a three day whirlwind tour on the EU Fuel Quality Directive (EU FQD).
The EU FQD will help reduce emissions from transport fuels. It encourages suppliers to reduce emissions and promotes the use of cleaner fuels over dirty fuels.
As you know, the Harper government has been lobbying fiercely against the EU FQD because it assigns a default value for tar sands (also known as bitumen) as a high carbon fuel. This lobbying has taken place through new studies, carefully crafted messages, visits from Canadian and Albertan politicians to Europe and strong lobbying of European Members of Parliament.
Canadian government officials have called this value “discriminatory,” even though it applies not just to tar sands produced in Canada, but to tar sands produced anywhere in the world. It has been called unscientific, even though the value is based on a peer-reviewed scientific study by a Stanford University professor.
Mr. Aresenis spent his morning meeting Liberal Part Environment Critic Kirsty Duncan and conducting a number of interviews with Canadian media. I just returned from a lunch meeting with Mr. Aresenis and Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party and Nusa Urbancic of EU-based Transport and Environment and representatives of Climate Action Network Canada (CAN Canada), Environmental Defence and Equiterre.
Next is a Parliamentarian briefing and meeting with the NDP leader and relevant critics followed by an interview by Mr. Aresenis on Power and Politics and finally, an evening reception. The Council of Canadians, alongside CAN Canada, Greenpeace, and Environmental Defence are hosting the reception which will be attended by MPs, Senators and members of the environmental community in Ottawa.
Mr. Aresenis’ message is simple. He is here to discuss the EU FQD and the many misunderstandings of the policy that have been brought forward by Canadian lobbying and to the public. For example, the policy does not unduly target just Canada. In fact, the FQD assigns a specific value to different tyles of fuels on the basis of their scientifically proven carbon intensity. This includes fuel produced by tar sands, and not just Canada’s tar sands, but bitumen produced anywhere in the world. He is also here to question why Canada is actively lobbying against an important climate policy when Canada has traditionally been an ally to the EU on the Environment and social justice.
I will be attending this afternoon’s meeting and the reception – more information to come!