Friday, February 17, 2012
Tutu Targets Tar Sands
Archbishop Desmond Tutu and seven other Nobel laureates have written British prime minister David Cameron warning that Athabasca Tar Sands bitumen "threatens the health of the planet." The group is urging the UK to support European moves to classify Athabasca bitumen as highly polluting.
Last November, the Guardian revealed that the UK government has been actively supporting Canada's attempts to stop the tar sands oil being designated by Europe as emitting 22% more greenhouse gas emissions than that from conventional fuels. The proposal, the Fuel Quality Directive, could effectively ban tar sands oil from Europe and would set a precedent of officially labelling tar sands oil as dirtier than conventional oil.
Baker has defended the UK's stance on the grounds that all different types of crude oil – not just tar sands oil – should be assessed as low, medium and high emissions. "To be clear, we are not delaying action in any way, but are seeking an effective solution to address the carbon emissions from all highly polluting crudes, not simply those from one particular country," he has said. The foreign office has admitted such a system "may take some time" and would effectively kick the proposal into the long grass.