NEWS: UK, Netherlands reportedly backing Canadian opposition to the European Fuel Quality Directive

Brent Patterson
10 years ago
The Canadian Press reports that, "A British media report says the United Kingdom government has been giving secret support at the very highest levels to Ottawa's campaign against European penalties on its oilsands fuel (the European Fuel Quality Directive), prompting environmentalists to call Britain Canada's 'partner in crime'. The Guardian newspaper says energy giants Shell and BP, which both have major oilsands projects in Alberta, have been lobbying the government of Prime Minister David Cameron to back Canada's fight against the European proposal. According to documents released under freedom of information laws, at least 15 high-level meetings and frequent communications have taken place since September between Ottawa and London." "Ahead of the European vote to approve the fuel quality regulations on Friday (December 2), British Foreign Secretary William Hague offered support to the Harper government, sending an 'immediate action' cable in September to the U.K. embassies in Canada asking 'to communicate our position and seek Canadian views on what might be acceptable'. The Guardian says the U.K. and Canada's shared opposition to the European plan puts the U.K. in a minority among EU countries..." The Guardian UK article also notes, "The new documents and diplomatic sources suggest the Netherlands, Spain and Poland are among those backing the British-Canadian position." And Greenpeace UK says, "A majority of European countries must back the plan for it to become law, and right now the vote could go either way because of a UK-led diplomatic offensive to scupper it." "The Guardian report is based on documents obtained by the Co-operative -- a U.K. mutual business group that targets tar sands as part of its climate change campaigning. 'It is very disappointing that the U.K. government is supporting Canada's efforts and we hope it has a rethink and puts tackling climate change ahead of Canada's trade interests when it comes to vote on the European commission's commonsense proposal,' Colin Baines, toxic fuels campaign manager at the Co-operative told the Guardian." On September 22, during British Prime Minister David Cameron's visit to Canada, Postmedia News reported, "With pressure mounting on Canada over the environmental footprint of oilsands development, Cameron moved to strengthen business ties with Alberta, announcing his country is opening a full consulate in Calgary, the heart of the oilpatch." That British Trade Office is already open, and is located at 3000-150 6 Ave SW in Calgary, http://ukincanada.fco.gov.uk/en/about-us/other-locations/trade-office--calgary/. To counter the Harper government's lobbying in Europe so far, the Council of Canadians has asked Canadians to send a message to Members of the European Parliament to express support for the fuel quality directive. Plans are also underway to deliver these to MEPs, European Union embassies in Ottawa, and more. To see this action alert, please go to http://canadians.org/eu-fqd. And this coming week, the Council's logo will appear in ads about the tar sands in newspapers in the United Kingdom, France and the Netherlands (key countries that need to be swayed on this issue). These ads will encourage those governments to ignore the Harper government’s lobbying and support the EFQD. The Council is also looking at further interventions prior to the December 2 vote and an anticipated January 19 vote in the European Parliament. This morning, "More than fifty (Greenpeace UK) environmental activists took direct action to blockade both major entrances to the UK's Department of Transport in London whilst other campaigners demonstrated with banners outside British embassies in Paris, Berlin and Stockholm. Campaigners are targeting the British government after documents released showed how officials from its transport department are working to sabotage a key European proposal that would block tar sands oil, the dirtiest oil in the world, from ending up in petrol pumps across Europe. ...Today's direct action comes less than a week before officials from all over Europe will meet in Brussels for a possible decision about whether they will approve a European plan called the Fuel Quality Directive."