* Hedegaard says science shows oil sands more polluting
* Britain, others lend backing to Canada in fight against EU
* Environmentalists firmly back European Commission stance
By Johanna Somers
BRUSSELS, Oct 27 The European Commission's plans
to class fuel from oil sands, including Canada's, as highly
polluting are based on science and it will proceed with talks
with EU member states to implement the measure, its climate
commissioner said on Thursday.
Canada, which has huge deposits of the unconventional crude
oil, has hit back fiercely at a European Union proposal to label
oil sands as carbon-intensive, in a ranking designed to help
fuel suppliers choose the most environmentally friendly option.
Canada fears the ranking could damage the market for its
oil. Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver has said the
Commission's proposal is based on politics, not science.
Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard denied that it is
"We have the knowledge and the fact that oil sands are more
CO2-polluting than other kinds of fuel," Hedegaard told a
conference in Brussels.
"And therefore we say it should have a specific value. It's
nothing targeted against this particular fuel. We are doing that
with all our different biofuels. It's the same methodology that
we are applying for different things in the same directive," she
"And now we are discussing this also with our member states,
with the Commission, which has proposed this."
The 2008 fuel quality directive assigns greenhouse gas
emissions values for a range of transport fuels, most of which
were dealt with by the end of last year.
After earlier lobbying by Canada delayed the process, it was
only provisionally approved earlier this month that oil sands
would be included in the EU's fuel quality directive.
The news on Oct. 4 triggered another round of lobbying by
Canada, which has won the support within the 27-member European
Union from Britain and Eastern European states, EU sources said.
Environmental groups have strongly supported the Commission.
"Canada's plans for tar sands will put the world on track
for 6 degrees of warming, way past the globally accepted limit
of 2 degrees," said Franziska Achterberg of Greenpeace.
"Six degrees would be game over."
The proposed ranking assigns oil sands crude a default
greenhouse gas value of 107 grams of carbon per megajoule,
compared with 87.5 grams for conventional oil.
Two of the other unconventional fuel sources have higher
values than oil sands. They are oil shale at 131.3, found in
EU-member Estonia, and coal-to-liquid at 172.
The EU has a set of 2020 goals to make its energy mix more
environmental, including cutting the amount of carbon it
releases by 20 percent compared with 1990 levels.
As part of that target it has agreed to reduce the carbon
intensity of its transport fuels by 6 percent.
(Writing by Barbara Lewis; editing by Rex Merrifield and