BAD year for Canada's tar sands. The US rejected the Keystone XL pipeline that would have carried fuel south, and now the European Union is poised to label tar bitumen more polluting than other forms of oil. That would rule out selling it to Europe.
The EU's Fuel Quality Directive will cut the greenhouse gas emissions generated by transport fuel - from production to use - by 6 per cent by the end of 2020. Suppliers will have to label fuels according to their total greenhouse-gas footprint, and current footprints will have to shrink.
The emissions from extracting and processing tar sands are larger than for regular oil (Environmental Research Letters, DOI: 10.1088/ 1748-9326/4/1/ 014005). The EU proposes labelling them as producing 22 per cent more emissions overall than conventional oil. Its fuel quality commission will vote on that proposal on 23 February, before the European Parliament makes the final decision.