This briefing demonstrates how corporate lobby groups are using trade threats, and particularly the EU-US trade talks as a vehicle to attack, weaken and delay important environmental regulation still in the making. The Fuel Quality Directive has already been delayed and potentially weakened, threatening EU climate policies and an influx of tar sands to Europe.
Since its inception in 2009, the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD), a European Union regulation aimed at reducing the climate impact of transport fuels, has been attacked by powerful lobby interests that do not want the EU to take action to curtail the use of particularly greenhouse gas intensive fossil fuels. While the FQD aims to reduce the climate impact of fossil fuels by addressing all sources of high carbon oil (for example oil shale, coal-to-liquid or tar sands), the oil industry has waged an extensive lobby campaign to portray the FQD as unfairly discriminating against one specific oil source: tar sands.
The Canadian government has been acting as dirty oil’s advocate since 2009, putting pressure on the EU through trade negotiations and threatening to file a complaint at the World Trade Organisation (WTO). But recently the pressure on the EU to weaken the Fuel Quality Directive has increased notably, with oil industry groups taking the lead on lobbying efforts. And oil companies and refiners have found a new lobby vehicle to attack the FQD: the ongoing negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).