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Alberta continues fight against EU climate measures

Alberta’s energy minister is taking “preventative” steps to ensure the European Union doesn’t pass climate change laws targeting his province’s oil sands.

“I always feel it's a lot harder to undo legislation than to take action before it becomes law,” Ron Liepert told the Calgary Herald.

On average, fuel from the oil sands has a 23 percent bigger carbon footprint than most other fossil fuels, a new study prepared for the European Union concludes.

That finding may prove significant in Brussels, where policymakers are finalizing a piece of global warming legislation known as the Fuel Quality Directive.

That law aims to reduce the carbon footprint of all road fuels entering the EU.

Producing fuel from Alberta’s oil sands requires massive amounts of energy, generally releasing more greenhouse gases than conventional operations.

EU policymakers proposed measures last year which would discourage imports of oil sands fuel.

Those measures were tentatively dropped after heavy lobbying from Canadian officials and major European oil companies such as Royal Dutch Shell (click here to read a Tyee report).

Energy Minister Liepert recently completed a $30,000 trade mission to Europe, where he attempted to convince policymakers not to target oil sands energy.

“The European Union is not currently a major market for Alberta’s oil sands products,” Liepert said in a press release. “But any legislation or tariffs adopted by the union’s government can serve as a model for individual nations around the world."

Liepert called the EU's recent oil sands emissions report “unfair” and will soon present “more recent numbers” to the Union's climate commissioner.

“This latest report serves to solidify the fact there is no valid debate about whether or not the oilsands are significantly more greenhouse gas intensive than conventional oil sources,” the Pembina Institute’s Danielle Droitsch wrote in a blog post.

“There is a spin campaign by government and industry and then there's the truth.”

Geoff Dembicki reports for the Tyee.

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