Ottawa (AFP) Nov 22, 2010
Environmentalists on Monday accused Canada of attempting to kill proposed US and EU clean energy policies in order to protect its oil exports.
Climate Action Network Canada executive director Graham Saul told a press conference that government letters, memos, speeches, and lobbyist reports assembled by the group point to a "coordinated lobbying strategy to kill climate change policies in other countries."
"This systematic effort is being run out of Foreign Affairs and some of the briefing materials feeding into key discussions was drafted by the oil industry rather than having more neutral versions prepared by civil servants," he said.
"In our opinion, this is a scandal. It's outrageous," he added.
In a report, the coalition of environmental groups cites three cases in 2007 in which Ottawa fiercely lobbied to "undermine" or "weaken" climate and clean energy policies of foreign governments.
They were the establishment of a low-carbon fuel standard in California; a US federal clean fuels policy directing government departments not to buy dirty fuels; and the European Union's Fuel Quality Directive on blending more biofuels into their gasoline and reducing emissions from the production of fossil fuels.
It was feared that exports from Canada's oil sands, whose exploitation generates more greenhouse gases than extracting crude oil, would be impacted by the new laws.
Susan Casey-Lefkowitz of the Natural Resources Defense Council noted that Canada failed to sway California and the EU, and Washington's position is still undetermined.
But Saul said: "We have reason to believe that these three cases are only the tip of the iceberg."
He and other members of the Climate Action Network Canada called on Harper "to stop trying to kill clean energy policies in other countries."
Environment Minister John Baird dismissed the accusations, saying the Canadian government was "working very closely" with US President Barack Obama's administration on a continental plan to curb CO2 emissions.
Some 120,000 direct and indirect jobs nationwide rely on the oil sands, noted Parliamentary Secretary for Natural Resources David Anderson.
Ottawa "recognizes the environmental challenges of developing the oil sands" and is "working with all levels of government and with the industry to make sure that those are dealt with," he added.
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