Thursday’s vote on whether EU nations will classify Canada’s oilsands crude as more harmful to the environment than other fuels ended in a stalemate. Ballots, which were weighted by population, were cast by experts from the EU’s 27 member states.
The vote failed, however, to produce the required 255 votes needed to approve the classification and, consequently, the proposal will move up to the European Council, which will vote on it in late spring or early summer.
As one might expect, the Canadian government and oil industry have lobbied against this proposal and, of course, environmentalists have supported it.
David Plunkett, Canada’s ambassador to the EU, wrote to Connie Hedegaard, the EU’s climate action commissioner, in late 2011. “Canada will explore every avenue at its disposal to defend its interests, including at the World Trade Organization,” he wrote.
It’s an important issue and Canada faces an uphill battle, especially since Connie Hedegaard has staunchly defended the intent of the classification. Canadian officials, though, can take some comfort from today’s vote: of the 345 votes cast, 89 were “for”, 128 were “against”, and 128 were abstentions.
With neither side of the issue getting the required 255 to pass or fail, the proposition will be left for politicians to decide.