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The European Commission has revamped its proposals for labelling oilsands oil to make them more industry friendly, opening the door for shipping crude from Canada’s oilsands to Europe.

The changes announced Tuesday would drop a mandatory requirement for oilsands oil to be labelled as dirty and highly polluting.

“It is no secret that our initial proposal could not go through due to resistance faced in some Member States,” EU climate action commissioner Connie Hedegaard said in a prepared statement Tuesday.

The commission agreed in 2011 that oilsands oil should receive a carbon rating a fifth higher than for standard oil, but some member states balked at the move.
The position announced on Tuesday would free refiners from having to specifically mention oilsands oil, and only require them to report an average carbon rating of their stock of petrol, diesel, liquefied petroleum gas and compressed natural gas.

Hedegaard acknowledged a failure to get member states on board with the 2011 standard.

“However, the Commission is today giving this another push, to try and ensure that in the future, there will be a methodology and thus an incentive to choose less polluting fuels over more polluting ones like for example oil sands,” Hedegaard said.
She made an attempt to present the new position as a limited victory.

“Finally the Commission can present this proposal to improve the climate impact of our transport fuels,” Hedegaard said.

The move to change how refiners label the carbon intensity of their fuel is expected to drawn sharp criticism from environmentalists and some politicians.
The new proposal would retain a formula for calculating the carbon intensity of varied fuels types over their life-cycles.

“I strongly recommend Member States to adopt this proposal and keep the safeguards that will allow cleaner fuels to be used in transport across Europe,” Hedegaard said.

The new proposal must now be debated by member states, which could take less than two months.

In 2009, EU members agreed to cut greenhouse gasses by 6 per cent from transport fuel sold in Europe. They did not agree, however, on how to do this.

A statement from Hedegaard’s office on Tuesday attempted to put a bright face on the compromise, calling it “a simple and effective mechanism to account for emissions from road transport, while ensuring a high level of climate protection.”