The Canadian Energy Minister, Ron Liepert, has been visiting the UK to promote the Alberta Tar Sands as a "leading source of secure energy."
This has to do with the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) being negotiated between the EU and Canada (for the last 2 years), which is due to be finalised in 2012.
Of particular concern is the clause (reported by the Guardian), allowing corporations to sue states for compensation if they feel that their profits have been unfairly compromised. This is outrageous! What is more worrying is that this type of clause is not unusual. For example, Uruguay, folding under pressure from big tobacco or Dow Chemicals' legal action over Quebec's ban of 2, 4-D.
If CETA goes ahead, it may have an impact on the review of the EU Fuel Quality Directive, which is looking at whether to discriminate against carbon intensive fuels. This is certainly the concern of the UK Tar Sands Network, and a not unreasonable concern, looking at history.
Will we as taxpayers be forced in future to pay for compensation to Tar Sands investors?
A related, subsidiary point connected with this issue is the UK Government stake in The Royal Bank of Scotland, which has been investing in the Alberta Tar Sands.
What signal does this send to developing countries facing restrictions in order to be greener?