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Government face pressure about oil from tar sands

Environmental pressure groups have called on the UK government not to block a European Commission directive which would ban the use of oil produced from tar sands within the EU.

Organisations such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth claim these unconventional fuels, which are produced from oil-rich shale and tar sands in areas such as Canada, actually cause more pollution than existing fossil fuels.

The coalition government, which has already come under fire for its poor environmental record, would be damaging their green reputation even further if they vote against the European Commission’s Fuel Quality Directive. The Directive is a commitment to cutting the pollution caused by the production of fuel by 6%, and would lead to an effective ban on fuel produced from shale and tar sands.

Greenpeace’s senior climate adviser, Charlie Kronick, called on European governments to send a message to Canada and the US, where most shale oil production is taking place, that there will be no market for such an environmentally-damaging product. He added that Greenpeace research shows that emissions from the production of fuel from tar sands are actually 25% worse than from the process which turns oil extracted via normal methods into petrol.

Despite overwhelming evidence from green pressure groups, many European countries have already announced plans to reject the Directive, while two of the most influential nations, Germany and the UK, have not yet revealed how they plan to vote.

Tony Bosworth, energy campaigner at Friends of the Earth, warned Prime Minister David Cameron that voting to allow the use of fuel from tar sands in Europe would not only destroy his own government’s green reputation, but would also cause untold devastation to the natural environment in Canada. He added that ministers have a responsibility to prevent the entry of tar sand oil, which is much dirtier than normal oil, into the European marketplace.

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