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Tar Sands Lobby in the Driver's Seat against Europe's Fuel Quality Directive

Climate

Oil Change International

By Andy Rowell

We have known for a long time that the Canadian government was colluding with the oil and gas industry over tar sands and its campaign against Europe’s Fuel Quality Directive (FQD).

But new documents have come to light that reveal the extent of that collusion, especially between Big Oil and Natural Resources Canada, the department headed by Joe Oliver, who has long been a cheerleader for the oil industry.

The emails are between senior bureaucrats at Natural Resources Canada and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) which calls itself the “voice” of the upstream oil industry in the country, whose members include BP and Shell.

The emails expose the fact that CAPP’s lobbyists essentially approved Canada’s bully boy tactics against the EU, which last week led to yet further delay in the implementation of the landmark climate change legislation.

Mark Corey, an assistant deputy minister at Natural Resources Canada, wrote an internal last October. It read: “I talked to (CAPP president) David Collyer about the possible Canadian position on the FQD that we discussed—everyone in same basket, at same level, until they prove otherwise.” Collyer said “his initial impression was that he liked it, but would confer and call me back.”

According to the emails, which have been obtained by the Toronto-based organisation Environmental Defence, Oliver’s position would be crafted with industry input, explaining that Collyer had also discussed the matter with the association’s Vice President of markets and tar sands, Greg Stringham.

“He said they liked the proposal a lot,” Corey wrote in the email. “He termed it as an elegant solution that is worth pursuing.”

The email also said that Collyer would “quietly talk to a few more players,” and that another senior bureaucrat would then “write the position up so that it could be raised with the minister, if you are comfortable, as a possible position around which we could try to build support.”

Gillian McEachern, deputy campaign director at Environmental Defence said of the emails: “The federal government is supposed to represent the interests of Canadian citizens abroad, but it’s clear that the oil industry is now in the driver’s seat when it comes to our role on the world stage."

She added: “This is another example of the erosion of Canada’s democracy at the hands of the tar sands lobby, which not only threatens Canada’s air, water and land, but is actively trying to prevent good climate actions in other countries.”

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"Our study shows that biodiversity is essential to ensure the provision of ecosystem services and to maintain a high and stable agricultural production," Matteo Dainese, the study's lead author and a biologist at Eurac Research in Bolzano, Italy, said in a statement.

It stands to reason that, with declines in the sheer numbers of insects that ferry pollen from plant to plant and keep crop-eating pests under control, these services will wane as well. But until now, it hasn't been clear how monocultures affect the number and mix of these species or how crop yields might change as a result.

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The researchers also looked at a third measure of the makeup of insect populations — what they called "evenness." In natural ecosystems, a handful of dominant species with many more individuals typically live alongside a higher number of rarer species. The team found as landscapes became less diverse, dominant species numbers dwindled and rare species gained ground. This resulting, more equitable mix led to less pollination (though it didn't end up affecting pest control).

"Our study provides strong empirical support for the potential benefits of new pathways to sustainable agriculture that aim to reconcile the protection of biodiversity and the production of food for increasing human populations," Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter, one of the study's authors and an animal ecologist at the University of Würzburg in Germany, said in the statement.

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Reposted with permission from our media associate Mongabay.