EXPOSED: Canada's secret tar sands lobbying of UK ministers

Posted by petespeller — 27 November 2011 at 12:29am - Comments
Syncrude Oil Operations in Alberta Tar Sands
All rights reserved. Credit: Jiri Rezac / Greenpeace
View of smoke plumes emitted from the Syncrude upgrader plant north of Fort McMurray.

Documents obtained by The Cooperative and Friends of the Earth Europe through Freedom of Information requests and shared with Greenpeace reveal numerous high-level meetings between Canadian ministers, oil executives and British government officials focused on the UK’s position on a new EU policy that would significantly restrict tar sands oil coming into Europe.

The heavily redacted documents reveal the sheer scale of the lobbying effort by Canadian government officials in the run up to the vote this Friday on the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD) in the EU – which as it stands would significantly restrict the import of tar sands oil into the EU.

The UK started out supporting the FQD but, thanks to the mammoth lobbying campaign by Canadian officials and representatives from big oil, the UK are now actively blocking the proposals.

Key ministers, including the Lib Dem transport minister Norman Baker, were lobbied hard and are now doing the dirty work of the Canadian government and big oil in the EU.

Much of the key correspondence, and in particular the briefings from Shell, have been redacted or withdrawn altogether indicating the government is still seeking to cover up the extent of the oil lobbying. Some documents contain nothing more than a Shell logo followed by pages of large black squares.

We’ve long suspected the close relationship between the British and Canadian governments and big oil, now we have the documents to prove it. Amongst the collection of papers are correspondence, presentations, meeting agendas and minutes. Key quotes from the document include:

  • 29th September – Canadian Minister Kenney “delighted that PM Cameron had visited last week… He particularly appreciated the broader change in tone on the oil sands.”
  • 23rd September – Alberta’s Energy Minister, “very positive about the UK… grateful for UK efforts on FQD”
  • 2nd Sept – Foreign Office eGram called ‘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”. The instructions themselves were witheld. Signed off by William Hague.
  • 24th October – Charles Hendry to 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”.

Download the documents:

FCO eGram

Note of Lord Sassoon meeting with Alberta Energy Minister Ron Liepert 23/09/2011

Email 21/10/2011 Subject: REST Canadian Demarche on FQD

eGram on EU Fuel Qualities Directive 2/09/2011

Letter from BP to Norman Baker on FQD

Letter from Charles Hendry to Canadian High Commissioner

Shell FQD presentation redacted

Shell oil sands presentation redacted

Looks like this government can't tell the difference between "murky"  and green. Or should that read oily and green? Yet another example of what they say bearing no relation to what they do.

Nothing short of scandalous.  We really must engage the public on this issue to make them realise that Tar Sands is one of the largest environmental disasters that really does affect us all. 

Hi there, 

I have been trying to find out what happened last Friday 3rd December with the votes on Fuel QualityDirective (FQD) but I dont seem to be able to see if it has gone through or not. Any help?

Thanks!  

Like Mafalda, I too would like to know the outcome of the meeting on the Fuel Quality Directive.

I e-mailed Nick Clegg as requested and also sent an e-mail to my own MP to enlist his support.

Which way did the vote go?

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