MEPs today rejected the European Commission's decision to no longer label tar sands oil as highly polluting in a vote in in the European Parliament Environment Committee, with 38 in favour and 29 against.
Under the Commission's decision in October, which came as part of an update to the EU's Fuel Quality Directive, oil from tar sands is to be given the same emission value as conventional petrol or diesel. This means its higher actual greenhouse gas emissions will not be accounted for.
The move came following political pressure from Canada during negotiations over a recently agreed trade deal, and has been heavily criticised by environmental groups and MEPs as it will remove a major potential obstacle to the importation of dirty tar sands oil into Europe.
Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder, who sits on the Environment Committee, commented:
"Tar sands are extremely polluting and this must be accounted for.
"The EU must do all it can to encourage investment into cleaner fuels. We should not give in to external pressure over our environmental standards."
"Especially now that we are negotiating a global deal on climate change, this would send completely the wrong signal."
Following today's Committee vote there will be a final vote in the European Parliament plenary session in Strasbourg, expected in January. If the motion is approved by a majority of MEPs the revision of the EU's Fuel Quality Directive will be rejected.
See Catherine's speech below to the European Parliament's Environement Committee on EU u-turn on labelling tar sands as highly polluting.