California backs EU plan to label oilsands products as ‘dirty fuel’
European plans to slap a “dirty” label on fuels derived from Canada’s huge oil sands reserves have received a boost from California, whose pioneering labelling scheme seeks to put consumers in the driving seat.
Canada sees huge export potential for its reserves of oil sand, which are among the world’s largest, and has bitterly opposed EU plans it regards as a threat to future markets.
Extracting oil from a mix of sand and clay is energy and water intensive and critics such as Nobel laureate Al Gore argue that using oil sand-derived fuel effectively converts an economic car into a gas-guzzler.
“Over its life cycle, fuel made from tar sands emits much more CO2 than either coal or oil. A Toyota Prius running on gasoline made from tar sands has the carbon footprint of a Hummer,” he said in his book “Our Choice.”
Canada, together with the oil industry, has lobbied furiously against a draft EU law it says is unfair, not based on science and imposes an unreasonable administrative burden.
But California has already introduced a pioneering scheme to allow consumers to choose their fuel based on the lowest carbon emissions over the wells-to-wheels life cycle.
And it says the scheme works.
“The Low Carbon Fuel Standard merely recognizes that greenhouse gas emissions from crude oil can significantly vary and accounts for it accordingly,” Mary Nichols, chairman of the Californian regulator the Air Resource Board, wrote in a letter to EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard.