By Lauren King

Fuel-quality directive vote today – UK government ‘green’ or mean?
I want to take Mr Baker on a journey this morning before the vote, to a place where he would have to wear a mask over his face to protect him from the fumes, and would see how the rivers and streams were polluted, and the trees long disappeared.
“This devastation, Mr Baker, is approximately the size of your country. How would you feel I told you this was actually the UK, now completely uninhabitable, just because people in other countries want our oil and will pay a large price?”

Today we will hold our breath to hear the decision of Norman Baker, the UKs Transport Minister, who will cast his vote on the EU fuel-quality directive. The European Union would introduce this directive in order to introduce stricter controls on the quality of fuel entering the Europe, banning carbon intensive oil, such as dirty oil from the Tar Sands.

A Syncrude Tar Sands mine in Alberta

The Tar Sands are ‘the most destructive industrial project on earth’, because of the industries disastrous effects on First Nations communities in Alberta who are becoming ill from the toxic waste leaking into their food and water, and whose ancestral land is destroyed as local ecosystems are torn from the Earth’s surface. Not to mention the Earth’s climate, as tar sands emit 25% more carbon than conventional oil extraction and is hurtling us towards runaway climate change.
I went to Alberta this summer on a People & Planet Youth exchange, and was simply horrified by the scale of this industry. It was clear to us that we need to stop its expansion, and one of the main ways to do that is to boycott dirty oil, which is effectively what the fuel-quality directive would encourage.
Will Norman Baker be influenced by Canadian government that have been lobbying persistently, or will he agree to the ban? People & Planet and Avaaz have been lobbying from the other side, encouraging the decision makers to stay true to their pledge to be ‘the greenest government’ ever, and stop dirty oil coming into the EU by sending them mass letters and petitions. UK Tar Sands Network has staged a number of ‘Oil Orgy’ demonstrations which highlights the corruption surrounding the Canadian and the UK governments as bedfellows.
We should be encouraging renewable energy and showing solidarity with people struggling from environmental injustice, not supporting large scale devastation. It would be extremely embarrassing if our government disagrees with the majority of the EU over progressive legislation, which aims to reduce Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions from road travel by 6% before 2020.
All we can do now is wait for the decision, and whatever happens in this vote – keep lobbying the UK government to be ‘Tar Sands Free’ and boycott dirty oil.