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New report documents Canadian lobbying of EU over tar sands

The Council of Canadians is launching an exciting new multimedia education project, System Change not Climate Change this September. We’re happy to announce the website is now live, so check it out at www.systemchange.ca!

The UK Guardian reports today that a new report has been released documenting a fierce and determined lobbying effort on the part of the Canadian government to undermine EU climate legislation.

The report “Canada’s dirty lobby diary: Undermining the EU Fuel Quality Directive” produced by Friends of the Earth Europe is based on extensive interviews with leading experts in Canada and Europe, press and documents attained through Freedom of Information requests. It documents a concerted effort to undermine an important EU policy on climate changed called the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD) whose aim is to reduce the life cycle greenhouse gas emissions from transport fuels.

The Council of Canadians has been tracking and challenging this lobbying effort, focusing on how the Canadian government is using current Canada EU trade negotiations to undermine EU climate policy.

As quoted in the Guardian article, Darek Urbaniak, extractives campaign coordinator at Friends of the Earth Europe, said: “It is unprecedented that a government of one of the most developed countries can devise and implement a strategy that involves undermining independent science and deliberate misleading of its international partners.”

The report notes over 110 lobbying events organized by Canadians on tar sands and the FQD since September 2009 – over one per week! These include dozens of meetings between Canadian and British government “representatives” and oil executives. The main focus of these lobbying efforts are underscoring the “key” role that Canada plays in energy security and that it is a “secure, reliable and abundant” source of energy, while downplaying the climate impacts of the tar sands.

The new report states that the EU Commission is refusing to releases documents about trade relations with Canada. Despite the Canadian government publicly denying any links between the trade negotiations and the debate over the FQD, news reports have affirmed that lobbying is happening behind the scenes with Canada threatening with retaliation at these trade talks.

The report concludes with a list of recommendations to European and Canadian decision makers. This includes the demand that the Canadian government stop undermining the EU’s climate policies, questioning independent scientific evidence, threatening EU decision makers with trade retaliations, and downplaying the negative impacts of tar sands and instead take serious measures to address the greenhouse gas emissions from tar sands.

Council of Canadians takes action on CETA / tar sands

In advance of the seventh round of Canada-EU negotiations in April 2011, the Council of Canadians coordinated an open letter signed by Canadian civil society organizations demanding an end to this lobbying. You can read the letter here.

This is one of a number of actions the Council of Canadians has taken to expose and challenge this lobbying as part of our campaign challenging CETA, the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement. You can find out more about our CETA campaign here.

You can read a legal opinion written by trade expert Steven Shyrbman commissioned by the Council of Canadians alongside the Indigenous Environmental Network and Friends of the Earth Europe here and a short brief on CETA and the tar sands here.

Most recently the Council of Canadians was part of a Trade Justice Network delegation present in Brussels for the eighth round of negotiations. Alongside EU based allies including the UK Tar Sands network, activities included a tar sands lobbying tour and the successful hosting of a Trading Tarsands event attended by several European members of Parliament, hosted alongside the UK Tar Sands Network and Corporate Europe Observatory. You can read Stuart Trew, Council of Canadians Trade Campaigner’s blog about this intervention here.