Eight Nobel Peace prize winners sent an open letter to the Romanian President Taraian Basescu asking him to support the Fuel Quality Directive, European Commission’s effort to keep highly polluting tar sands oil out of Europe. The open letter asking to support the new policy prohibiting highly polluting oil produced from tar sands was sent to all EU leaders, as all EU stated will have to approve the directive. The letter is signed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a Nobel Peace laureate from 1984 (in picture), and seven others laureates: Mairead Maguire (1976), Betty Williams (1976), Adolfo Pérez Esquivel (1980), Rigoberta Menchú Tum (1992), Jody Williams (1997), Shirin Ebadi (2003). The EU has proposed a policy aiming at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transport fuels consumed in Europe, recognizing that tar sands oil causes more greenhouse gas pollution than conventional oil. A final approval is needed from the members of the European Union.
Oil sands, also known as tar sands or bituminous sands, are a type of unconventional petroleum deposit. The bitumen that is extracted and upgraded to produce synthetic crude has been criticized for its poor environmental and social outcomes. More about tar sand here.
“We—a group of Nobel Peace Laureates—are writing today to ask you to do the right thing for our environment and support the European Commission’s effort to keep highly polluting tar sands oil out of Europe.
Climate change is the gravest threat to the wellbeing of our planet. We now stand at a turning point. The Fuel Quality Directive proposed by the European Commission is an example of a policy that, if implemented properly, can move us away from our destructive dependence on oil, coal and natural gas to renewable energy sources and clean transportation sources. It is designed to help Europeans make cleaner fuel choices.
Tar sand development is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada, and threatens the health of the planet. As the tar sands have contributed to rising emissions, Canada recently stepped away from the Kyoto Protocol. Europe must not follow in Canada’s footsteps.
Dr. James Hansen, at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, has said that unrestricted exploitation of high carbon tar sand oil would mean “game over for the climate”.
Large reserves of tar sands exist in Canada, Madagascar, Russia and Venezuela. In Canada, production of tar sand oil is not only contributing to climate change, but is also causing widespread environmental damage and harm to local people and aboriginal communities. The production process has polluted the Athabasca River, poisoned the air with toxins and turned farmland into wasteland. Large areas of the boreal forest have been cut down to make way for tar sand mining.
For these reasons we commend President Obama’s decision to reject the proposal to build the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have dramatically increased the amount of tar sands oil produced and transported from Canada to the United States.
We urge you to support the European Commission’s proposal and say no to highly polluting tar sands oil—in favor of cleaner fuels.
Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate (1976)—Ireland
Betty Williams, Nobel Peace Laureate (1976)—Ireland
Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Nobel Peace Laureate (1980)—Argentina
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Laureate (1984)—South Africa
Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Nobel Peace Laureate (1992)—Guatemala
Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Laureate (1997)—USA
Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Peace Laureate (2003)—Iran”