Canadian government and UK Transport Department targeted on global day of action against tar sands

Press Release

Friday June, 17th 2011 – For immediate release

Protesters in London will target Canada’s High Commission on Saturday June 18th to mark the second annual International Stop the Tar Sands Day [1]. Flowers will be delivered to the commission commemorating the communities, wildlife, and landscapes that have been damaged by tar sands extraction. Using vast amounts of fresh water and natural gas, and leaving behind lakes of toxic pollution, the Canadian tar sands are the world’s largest and dirtiest industrial project. Canada’s tar sands extraction is exacerbating global warming through deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions, causing rare forms of cancer amongst First Nations communities, destroying vast tracts of forest habitat and threatening wildlife to extinction [2].

The June 18th call to global action aims to raise international awareness that oil made from Canada’s tar sands is not a viable alternative to conventional petroleum [3]. Pete Barker, UK Organiser for International Stop the Tar Sands Day, says: “There are international protests today to expose how Canada is using aggressive lobbying techniques to push tar sands onto foreign markets, blocking international climate policies [4], violating First Nations rights and risking runaway climate change by ignoring the warnings of climate scientists. In an age of declining conventional oil reserves and rising greenhouse gas levels, we cannot afford to continue to extract tar sands if we are to respond to climate change. We have to show the Canadian government that the global community believes that exploiting the tar sands is unacceptable.”

Tar sands oil has not so far entered Europe but many major European oil companies like Norway’s Statoil, Netherlands/UK-based Shell, and France’s Total Oil are currently operating in the tar sands, with BP recently investing in its first project to begin operations in 2014. Jess Worth, from the UK Tar Sands Network, says: “The EU is not guaranteed to remain free from tar sands oil unless it can actively seek to ban the substance. The Fuel Quality Directive [5] should have such an effect, by discriminating different types of fuel based on their carbon intensity.

However, the UK government has caved into Canadian lobbying, and is campaigning to water down the landmark legislation by removing the reference to tar sands. Failure to address tar sands emissions undermines the whole objective of this legislation to reduce Europe’s transport emissions”

Protesters will sign a giant petition addressed to Norman Baker, Parliamentary Under Secretary for the Department for Transport who is responsible for the UK government’s intention to oppose the inclusion of tar sands fuels in the Fuel Quality Directive [6]. The petition will be hand-delivered by activists to the Department for Transport on Monday 20th June.

The International Stop the Tar Sands protest will also include a friendly game of ‘Oily World Volleyball’, illustrating that Canada is gambling with the future of the planet by devastating entire ecosystems for the pursuit of unconventional oil [7]. Emily Coats, from the UK Tar Sands Network, says: “As well as stopping further development in Canada, we must act now to prevent oil companies from exploiting other tar sands sources around the world. Currently, French oil giant Total, which has been running trial projects in tar sands fields in Madagascar, is currently considering beginning large scale exploitation of tar sands, and we urge them to abandon the project [8].”


Photo opportunity: Canadian High Commission, Grosvenor Square – 12:15 pm

For interviews contact: Peter Barker, International Stop the Tar Sands Day Organizer – +447967758641

Notes for editors:

[1] Actions will also be taking place in universities around the UK where activists will be getting ‘tarred and feathered’ Similar events are planned in Berlin, Lisbon, Copenhagen, The Hague and Brussels, along with 25 protests in the US and 12 in Canada

[2] For more information on tar sands and its environmental and social impacts see

[3] Lush cosmetics and the Indigenous Environmental Network organized protests across Europe to coincide with the international protests.

[4] See Canada Spurns Kyoto in Favour of Tar Sands

[5] The Fuel Quality Directive is a piece of EU legislation that sets out to reduce European transport fuel emissions by 6% by 2020 by encouraging the use of lower carbon fuels. Tar sands fuels emit on average 23% more carbon than conventional oil.

[6] See British Government is unlikely to support an EU push to include tar sands in its new fuel directive

[7] See for Stop the Tar Sands Going Global briefing launched by UK Tar Sands Network

[8] The World Development Movement campaigning against French corporationTotal to stop tar sands developments in Madagascar. See

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