12 Environmental Organizations Urge Closing of Potential Tar Sands Loophole in EU Draft Fuel Quality Directive
A group of 12 environmental groups has written to the EU climate action commissioner, Connie Hedegaard, warning that Article 7a of the draft Fuel Quality Directive as currently structured could “leave the European market wide open for transport fuels produced from tar sands, which have more than three times higher GHG emissions from extraction and refining compared to conventional oil.”
Article 7a of the directive says lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions from transport fuels must be reduced by 6% by 2020, a move environmental NGOs welcomed when it was agreed upon two years ago.
However, the organizations point out in their letter, in developing a methodology for calculating emissions from fuel, the Commission has proposed setting just one default emissions value for oil-derived gasoline and one for diesel. Fuels produced from highly greenhouse-gas-intensive tar sands would thus be treated the same as less damaging sources of oil.
With these provisions the European Commission is contradicting the whole purpose of the Directive and seriously undermining efforts to reduce the GHG emissions from transport.
—Letter to Commissioner Hedegaard
The organizations recommended instead:
The introduction of a set of conservative default values for diverging GHG intensity of crude oil, including tar sands and other sources of heavy crude;
The introduction of the opportunity to take into account improvements in refinery efficiency;
Leaving opportunities for fuel suppliers to prove that they are performing better than the default values (by investing in better technology, reducing flaring, switching to cleaner fuels, etc.);
Introducing accurate, robust and mandatory reporting systems for the carbon intensity of oil down to the project level. While such reporting will inevitably be incomplete in the beginning, they said, it needs to start now in order to create the necessary transparency for future reviews of the law.
The 12 organizations are: Transport & Environment; National Resources Defense Council; Bird life International; European Environmental Bureau; Friends of the Earth Europe; Sierra Club US and Canada; The Pembina Institute; WWF European Policy Office; Climate Action Network Canada; Environmental Defence Canada; National Wildlife Federation; and Friends of the Earth US.