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Lush Cosmetics tar sands postcards (July 2011)

In July we met with the staff of two Lush Cosmetics stores in Yorkshire. Lush have been gathering support for their postcard campaign, with hundreds of signatories asking that the EU takes a closer look at tar sands oil extraction when negotiating the Fuel Quality Directive and the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement.

Postcard

"Dear Member of the European Parliament,

I am deeply concerned about moves by the Canadian government and industry to bring tar sands-derived fuel into the EU.

The tar sands have been described as 'the most environmentally destructive project on earth'. As you may be aware, the tar sands deposits in Canada are situated beneath ancient boreal forest, a precious habitat for many animals and one of the most important forested regions of the world. The area is also the ancestral land for many indigenous First Nations communities who feel that their treaty rights are being trampled on by the Canadian government. Alarmingly, the tar sands extraction process is estimated to be three to five times more carbon intensive than traditional forms of oil.

For the sake of meeting EU carbon reduction targets and for protecting the forests and people of Canada, please do everything in your power to keep dirty tar sands oil out of Europe. Intense lobbying by industry to make tar sands fuel acceptable under the Fuel Quality Directive (2009/30/EC) is one major area of concern. The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) talks are another avenue where lobbyists are trying to force tar sands oil into Europe, so please use your influence to ensure these talks are put on hold until the concerns of environmental campaigners and human rights activists are taken on board.

Kind regards"

My reply

Dear Sir/Madam

Thank you very much for the tar sands postcard which I received along with many others sent to me by the various branches of Lush in our region.

The extraction of oil from tar sands is an issue which I have taken a lot of interest in over the years. One of my main concerns as an MEP is the sustainable management of resources and protection of the environment in the Arctic Circle. The Arctic region is a unique environment and very fragile ecosystem. It has a wealth of natural beauty as well as a number of valuable natural resources. It is important for those countries whose territories make up the arctic region to treat their natural environment with careful consideration and for the region to be governed responsibly.

Tar sands-extraction is a highly polluting form of processing hydrocarbons, and I agree that attention needs to be drawn to this during a year in which two very important negotiations are being discussed, the EU-Canada trade agreement and the Fuel Quality Directive. The political procedures for both of these agreements place most of the power within the European Council, and as a Member of the European Parliament, I will only be given a yes/no answer towards the end of negotiations.

I am in touch with the relevant UK Government Minister and will continue to argue that tar sands-extraction requires special categorization. I believe the UK government should take this view into negotiations this year and make the right choice for sustainable environmental policies and careful management of the Arctic region's ecosystem

Thank you for writing and please feel free to contact me on any other issues you are interested in.

Kind regards,

Diana Wallis