Kathryn Marshall Headshot

Not Too Late for Europe to Back Ethical Oil

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CONGRESSMEN TOUR OIL SANDS ALBERTA KEYSTONE PIPELI
AFP/Getty Images

Canada's Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver is holding out hope after the European Commission ruled this month that it would officially discriminate against oil from Canada's oil sands, labeling it as too high in carbon emissions to be imported by EU countries. Oliver thinks there's still a chance that the Europeans could come to their senses.

"We definitely don't think we've lost," Oliver told Reuters on Tuesday. "This is far from over." There's a "good chance" that Europe could reverse course, he said, "because we believe science is on our side." The European Union still has to pass the Commission's directive.

Oliver's right of course: The science doesn't back up this puzzling decision. The Europeans are happy to unfairly smear oil sands oil as environmentally problematic, and yet they'll give their blessing to the oil from elsewhere, even if its carbon profile is similar.

And that's just the environmental question. All that OPEC oil Europe seems prepared to commit itself to, instead of Canadian oil, also comes with a massive conflict footprint. Recently we've watched in the news as Venezuela's been condemned for trampling basic civil rights, like freedom of the press and democratic elections; we see sectarian violence erupting in Nigeria; and, of course, the Iranians--who also sell loads of oil to Europe--are carrying out secret executions, brutally persecuting gays and lesbians as well as religious minorities, and imprisoning journalists. There's also the little matter of the terrorist bombing the Iranian regime had reportedly been planning inside the United States (until American intelligence disrupted it in time).

If there's any oil that Europeans should be worried about, it's all the bloody conflict oil entering its borders and that it will continue to depend on as long as they insist on closing their doors to ethical, Canadian oil. Let's hope our natural resources minister is right and that there's still reason to believe that Europe could yet do the right thing and recognize that Canada's oil sands oil isn't only environmentally competitive with many other sources, but it's also one source of oil that doesn't fund repression, war, persecution, and terror. Canada doesn't just have science "on our side" as Oliver points out. We have peace, security and human rights on our side, too.

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