LONDON Oct 20 Environmentalists on Thursday
hurled accusations and interrupted a speech by Canada's
resources minister, who was on tour to persuade Britain not to
join the European Union in condemning oil from Canadian tar
sands as dirty.
As part of a plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions, the
European Union's executive commission wants to single out crude
from the enormous Canadian northern Alberta oil sands as being
particularly energy-intensive to produce.
Canada's Conservative government fears this could limit the
future market for tar sands crude and blur the message that
Canada is a reliable energy superpower.
The debate in Europe promises to be hot as diplomats say
Britain and the Netherlands - home to firms that are investing
in the sands - are privately helping to push the Canadian point
Environmental campaigners from People and Planet gave
Minister Joe Oliver a hard time on Thursday as he spoke at the
London School of Economics.
They repeatedly interrupted his speech and handed him an
award for being what they described as the "greenwash
propagandist of the year" for "contorting science" and
"rebranding the world's most destructive project".
"This lecture today was an inappropriate attempt to use an
educational venue to promote the Canadian tar sands industry,"
said People & Planet's campaigner Liam Barrington-Bush.
Oliver suggested earlier this month that Ottawa could take
the EU to the World Trade Organization if the Europeans adopted
the fuel quality directive.
In an interview with Reuters earlier this week he said the
EU could still reject the idea.
He said the carbon intensity of crude from the oil sands was
similar to oil from major suppliers to the EU such as Mexico,
Venezuela, Nigeria and Russia and that singling out oil sands
crude made no sense from a scientific point of view.
Environmentalists say Canada's aggressive lobbying seemed to
have shifted UK policy.
"Now the UK government seems to have taken on Canadian
government rhetoric, and it's trying to convince other member
states to adopt the Canadian line," said Suzanne Dhaliwal, from
the campaigning group UK Tar Sands Network, who also attended
Big companies active in the oil sands include Suncor Energy
Inc , Total SA , Royal Dutch Shell and
Canadian Natural Resources . They and others have
invested tens of billions of dollars in projects in the region.