Greenpeace campaigners blockaded the U.K.’s Department of Transport in London to protest what they claim are government efforts to prevent European Union moves to restrict the entry of tar sands oil into Europe.
About 16 people were arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass, said Alan Crockford, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Police. The protesters had dispersed by 2.15 p.m. London time, he said.
Activists dressed in red jumpsuits blocked two entrances to the government department using large plywood boards, locks and chains and parked two cars in front of the entrances. Campaigners also demonstrated outside British embassies in Paris, Berlin and Stockholm to coincide with the United Nation’s climate change talks which began today, said Greenpeace.
Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA) and BP Plc (BP/), which have major tar sands projects in Alberta, Canada, lobbied the government to oppose the EU Fuel Quality Directive restricting tar sands imports, according to Greenpeace on its website, citing documents obtained by The Cooperative and Friends of the Earth Europe through Freedom of Information requests.
At least 15 meetings have taken place since September with Prime Minister David Cameron stating privately that the U.K. wanted “to work with Canada on finding a way forward,” the Guardian newspaper reported today, citing the documents.
“David Cameron pledged to lead the greenest government ever,” said Paul Morrozzo, 41, a Greenpeace spokesman and protestor. “This will be a key test of that if he stands in the way of a key measure that could reduce Europe’s dependence on one of the dirtiest fuels.”
Production from Canada’s oil sands is expected to triple from 1.5 million barrels a day in 2010 to 4.5 million barrels a day in 2035, according to the International Energy Agency. That’s more than 5 percent of the world’s current oil supply. Extracting oil from tar sands emits on average between three and five times more carbon dioxide than conventional drilling, said Greenpeace.
“The suggestion that we are not taking the treatment of high-emitting oil sands seriously is outrageous,” Norman Baker, Transport Minister, said today in an e-mailed statement. “To be clear, we are not delaying action, but are seeking the earliest resolution in the most effective way, which is to address all highly polluting crudes equally, not simply oil sands from one particular country.”
David Nicholas, a spokesman for BP, declined to comment.
“There’s nothing unusual about U.K. companies discussing matters with U.K. government departments,” said David Williams, a spokesman for Shell in London. “We work with governments around the world to make sure energy needs are met in a responsible way.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Katie Linsell in London at Klinsell@bloomberg.net
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tim Farrand at email@example.com