Members of the European Parliament yesterday narrowly failed to reject new fuel quality rules — the EU’s crucial climate legislation aimed at reducing emissions from transport fuels — paving the way for more tar sands oil in Europe. The decision only reinforces the importance of other struggles seeking to curb the expansion and influence of the fossil fuel industry, including divestment.

A proposal to adopt a stronger Fuel Quality Directive, submitted by the European Commission to the European Parliament, would have discouraged oil companies from using and investing in some of the world’s dirtiest sources of fuel, including Alberta’s tar sands oil and coal-to-liquid. The proposal would have labelled tar sands oil “dirty” in Europe, but was “narrowly” rejected by the parliament.

Canada’s oil lobby is among the culprits accused of strong-arming MEPs over the past eight years to ease regulations and encourage a freer flow of tar sands oil  into European markets. Canada’s highly destructive tar sands are the country’s fastest-growing source of greenhouse gas emissions.

The EU needs to stick by its principles and show clearly that it is a leader on climate action as proclaimed during the UN negotiations in Lima last week. As Socialist MEP Kathleen Van Brempt said:

A week after the climate talks in Lima and a year ahead of the UN climate summit in Paris it would be cynical to lower European standards and it would undermine the EU’s credibility. There is too much at stake and the EU must persuade other countries to move forward.

If the EU is serious about tackling climate change, this latest move is far from a step in the right direction. During last week’s climate negotiations in Peru, the EU made clear its frustration at the speed of the talks, but back at home the European institutions seem unclear about Europe’s role as a supposed climate action leader.

Earlier this week, the European Commission opted, for the time being at least, to scrap two pieces of legislation that would have cut emissions, and now MEPs have narrowly failed to reject measures that weaken the ability of its fuel quality directive to keep dirty tar sands oil out of Europe.

It looks like there’s a long way to go still in 2015.   Although this is bad news, it only reinforces the importance of the divestment movement as an alternative ways to weaken the power and influence of the fossil fuel industry – so why not sign up to Global Divestment Day in February 2015.

Read more about yesterday’s decision and what it means for Europe climate targets (source: The Tree)


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