Indigenous and climate activists tell EU embassies the truth about Canada's tar sands

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“Our government is putting more energy into trying to kill climate change policies in other countries than doing its fair share to fight climate change in Canada.”


The  Indigenous Environmental Network, the Council of Canadians,  and Climate Action Network Canada have been meeting with Ottawa-based European Union Embassies to counteract Canadian lobbying against an important European climate policy.

“Canadian lobbying against the EU Fuel Quality Directive is riddled with misleading arguments and it does not represent the values many Canadians share,” says Andrea Harden-Donahue, Energy and Climate Justice Campaigner with the Council of Canadians.

The Canadian Government, along with industry allies and the Alberta Government, have launched a coordinated lobby attack on a European Union policy that aims to take steps to address the climate crises. This attack, run as ‘The Oil Sands Advocacy Strategy” and led by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, is dangerous and irresponsible in the face of global climate change.

The Fuel Quality Directive has been the focus of this lobbying effort. One dimension of this policy aims to achieve meaningful reductions in greenhouse gas pollution from transportation by requiring suppliers to move towards cleaner burning fuels. The policy has identified scientific average carbon intensity values for a number of the highest polluting fossil fuels, including natural bitumen or tar sands. Lobbying against the Directive, which has been subject to unusual delays, has included over 110 meetings in 2010 alone, Canada being the only non-EU state to participate in FQD consultation, advertisements and reports. Prior to meeting with the three civil society organizations, a number of the Embassies had already been lobbied by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and/or Canadian and Albertan government officials.

“The Harper Government has failed Canadians and the world by refusing to take the climate crises seriously,” says Hannah McKinnon of Climate Action Network Canada. “Instead of fighting a pollution battle at home, the government has chosen to fight a Public Relations battle abroad –- it is pathetic that our government is putting more energy into trying to kill climate change policies in other countries than doing its fair share to fight climate change in Canada.”

The organizations discussed the importance of the policy and directly debunked common industry and government lobby points regarding discrimination, carbon intensity of tar sands, and trade concerns. They made clear the critical importance of pressuring the government to take action on cleaning up the tar sands, both from a climate change and energy perspective as well as the human rights implications on directly impacted First Nation Communities.

“Profound human rights violations are being perpetuated by the Canadian governments ongoing tar sands bonanza. First Nations in the region are living with 30% elevated rates of cancer compared to the rest of Alberta,” says Clayton Thomas-Muller, Tar Sands Campaign Director for the Indigenous Environmental Network. “First Nations peoples have been leading an international campaign to stop the Canadian tar sands, this policy will help cut off Prime Minister Harpers ability to peddle this dirty oil to the European market.”

The proposal for the Directive is currently before an expert committee, which meets again on February 23rd.

The three organizations have already met with eight Embassies with plans underway for further meetings. A kit of information is shared with Ambassadors and Embassy staff that includes a document challenging misconceptions raised on the part of Canadian lobbying efforts alongside an open letter challenging Canadian lobbying efforts and supporting the Directive signed by organizations representing millions of Canadians and a letter of support from the Leader of the Green Party of Canada.

1 Comment

  • I am just so dissappointed with Canada’s values at the moment. I always thought they had their heads screwed on about nature Vs development. Clearly, that’s historical now.