COLUMN-EU Biofuel Shift Could Apply to Tar Sands: Wynn
by Gerard Wynn (Reuters) The European Commission has proposed phasing out support for food-based biofuels in a move that not only undermines the industry but provides a possible roadmap for addressing the wider implications of producing crude oil from tar sands.
…The European Commission has already developed estimates for their higher emissions compared with conventional crude, incurring the wrath of federal and provincial governments in Canada in the process.
Tar sand crude is not presently refined in the EU, but Canada fears other countries or regions, notably California, may adopt similar carbon labelling schemes.
Yet a compromise similar to the EU’s approach to biofuels may work, where producers initially only report the higher emissions from tar sands, but these do not immediately count against carbon-reduction targets.
…Tar sand crude is more carbon-emitting than conventional crude because of the carbon-intensive process of strip-mining sand and treating it, or using energy-intensive steam extraction of the oil from sands underground. The European Commission is presently doing an industry impact assessment of labelling the carbon emissions from tar sands, in a drawn-out process which has delayed a vote by member states until next year.
Given the scale of opposition from Canada and major oil firms, merely reporting the higher emissions offers the prospect of an interim compromise. It would also, as is now proposed for crop-based biofuels, signal to investors that change is around the corner. READ MORE