NEW REPORT: Canada’s dirty tar sands lobby diary

5 August 2011

Investigation shows extent of Canadian government’s lobbying efforts

Brussels, 5 August 2011 - The government of Canada is engaging in an unprecedented lobby effort to open up the European market to oil from its devastating tar sands, an investigation by Friends of the Earth Europe reveals. [1]

A detailed 'diary' compiled by Friends of the Earth shows the extent of Canadian efforts to block EU plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels.

Darek Urbaniak, extractives industries spokesperson for Friends of the Earth Europe, said: "The Canadian government has undermined independent science, deliberately misled and done everything in its power to undermine and delay the Fuel Quality Directive. This is possibly the most vociferous public relations campaign by a foreign government ever witnessed in the EU and is reminiscent of the tobacco industry in its attempt to delay action on health.

"Tar sands are the most climate hostile energy source in commercial production today. While Europe is working to reduce fossil fuels emissions Canada is trying to undermine this process. European decision makers must take into account the real carbon footprint of tar sands and not to give in to Canadian pressure," he added.

Documents obtained by Friends of the Earth show that for over a year the Canadians have employed a secret 'Pan-European Oil Sands Advocacy Plan' aimed at undermining EU policy on climate change and ensuring unrestricted imports of oil from the Alberta tar sands to Europe. To implement the plan and push the pro-tar sands message the Canadians have created a special 'Oil Sands Advocacy Team'.

The public relations campaign has included more than 110 events organised by the Canadians on tar sands, studies, visits from Canadian and Albertan politicians to Europe, visits by EU decision makers to the tar sands region, and constant lobbying of members of the European Parliament. The Canadians have deliberately downplayed the climate impact of tar sands and cast doubt on independent scientific studies.

Tar sands are the most climate hostile energy source in commercial production today. Producing oil from tar sands emits on average three to five times more greenhouse gases (GHGs) than conventional oil production. [2]

[1] ‘Canada’s dirty lobby diary - Undermining the EU Fuel Quality Directive’ is available above.

[2] Tar sands exploitation also destroys pristine boreal forest and peatlands, produces huge quantities of toxic waste, pollutes air and water, devastates local wildlife and threatens the traditional livelihoods of indigenous communities.

    • Agriculture

      Food and farming in Europe and its global impacts

    • Agrofuels

      Plant-based fuels from agriculture. Also known as biofuels

    • EU-US trade deal

      What’s at stake in negotiations for a transatlantic trade agreement

    • Food speculation

      Betting on foodstuffs, and how to regulate it

    • GMOs

      Genetically modified crops and organisms

    • Land

      Measuring Europe’s land footprint and tackling the drivers of land grabbing

    • Nature

      Standing up for our right to nature

    • Nature

      Standing up for our right to nature

    • Resource use

      Europe’s consumption of land, materials, water and carbon

    • Shale gas

      Unconventional oil and gas, and the ‘fracking’ process

    • Tar sands

      Unconventional oil, also known as oil sands

    • Water use

      Measuring Europe’s water footprint