UK Quietly Supports Canadian Tar Sands Exports to EU

The UK government has been lending secret support to Canada’s campaign against the EU’s Fuel Quality Directive (FQD), which would greatly restrict tar sands imports into EU member countries, according to The Guardian’s recent article. The UK government even went as far as opening a “new consulate in the province to support British commercial interests,” The Guardian reports.

On October 18, Reuters quoted the Canadian energy minister Joe Oliver as saying, about the FQD proposal and Canadian opposition to it, that the British “have been very, very helpful and we’re pleased about that…Many European companies are heavily invested in the oil sands and they also would be concerned.”

Documents obtained by the Cooperative and Friends of the Earth Europe reveal at least 15 “high level meetings and frequent communications have taken place since September,” according to the Guardian. The documents reveal that one of the meetings occurred between the British Prime Minister David Cameron meeting the Canadian Prime Stephen Harper.

Another document revealed that the UK Treasury Minister for Commerce, Lord Sassoon, spent two days in Calgary meeting “politicians and oil executives to discuss boosting trade with the UK,” according to the Guardian. Sassoon told reporters that Alberta is “one of the main focuses of British business.” Alberta’s energy minister, Ron Liepert told Sassoon he “was grateful for UK efforts” on the FQD.

Greenpeace, which offers the documents as downloads on its site, lists key quotes from the documents, including:

  • Canadian Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney was “delighted that PM Cameron had visited last week… He particularly appreciated the broader change in tone on the oil sands.”
  • Alberta’s Energy Minister is “very positive about the UK… grateful for UK efforts on FQD”
  • A Foreign Office eGram titled, “UK negotiating position on EU Fuel Quality Directive Commission proposal” included “instructions to communicate our position, and seek Canadian views on what might be acceptable.”
  • British Energy Minister Charles Hendry  said to the Canadian High Commissioner, “As I made clear we would value continued discussion with you on how we can progress discussions in Brussels” and “my officials stand ready to assist where appropriate.”

The well-known environmentalist, Bill McKibben said, “The UK seems to have emerged as Canada’s partner in crime, leaning on Brussels to let this crud across the borders. This will be among the biggest single environmental decisions the Cameron government makes.”

Photo: Wikipedia user, TastyCakes

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by

One response

  1. In researching a blog on the effects of fracking and drilling on earthquakes (“Oklahoma: All Shook Up” on my site), I’m disheartened by the lack of attention to what these processes are doing to the earth. To see England supporting oil from tar sands in spite of the Cuadrilla company’s admissions that their fracking activity has caused seismic events in Blackpool is really depressing.

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