Oil Change International

Exposing the true costs of fossil fuels

Britain Backs Canada Over Tar Sands Fight

On a warm summer evening in July this year, in the prestigious and ornate College Garden of Britain’s historic Westminster Abbey, 250 guests listened to a five-piece band.

The music was the start of an inaugural summer party organised by the public relations company Hanover Communications.

The guest list for the party was impressive, including leading CEOs, British cabinet ministers, Lords, MPs, newspaper editors and influential political commentators.

One of those in attendance was the Leader of the House of Lords, Lord Strathclyde, who is a close friend of British Prime Minister, David Cameron.  He would certainly have the Prime Minister’s ear, as they say.

Also among the guests was Brian Parrott, from the Canadian High Commission in London.

Parrott is the Senior Trade Commissioner at the High Commission, responsible for promoting Canada’s commercial interests in the UK.

Before working for the Canadian government, Parrott worked in the private sector on energy development projects both in Canada and internationally.

Photos (one above) show Parrott quaffing champagne next to Charles Lewington, who runs Hanover.  Lewington has a long association with the Conservative Party. He was Press Secretary to ex-Conservative leader John Major in the 90s

Parrott’s attendance at the Hanover party is no coincidence. For the last year, Hanover has been working with the Albertan government to promote the dirty tar sands in Europe.

In January this year, Hanover, working on behalf of the Albertans, started contacting key decision makers in the UK from the policy, political, media and investor community to help the Canadians further their PR strategy.

This is all part of pan-European lobbying campaign by the Canadians and Albertans to push tar sands and make sure that the tar sands are not singled out within the Fuel Quality Directive in Europe.

The dirty campaign looks like it is starting to have disastrous results. Canada’s Globe and Mail reported yesterday how the British are starting to align themselves with the Canadians.

The paper reported. “Stephen Harper’s chummy relationship with British Prime Minister David Cameron has begun to yield a friendlier view toward the oil sands, a potential influence in the fight over European standards that could label Alberta oil dirty. “

The paper continued: “In Britain, where the former Labour government and its envoys in Ottawa issued stark warnings about the impact of oil-sands development on climate change, Mr. Cameron’s Conservative government now argues the oil sands should not be singled out as a dirty source in a world that will need oil, and increasingly heavy crudes, for the foreseeable future.”

It goes on to argue that “The shift could have an impact on an important symbolic battle over the oil sands across the Atlantic, where the European Union is hammering out fuel standards that could be as a precedent for other jurisdictions.”

The British now seem to have aligned themselves with the Canadians. In a recent interview British High Commissioner to Ottawa Andrew Pocock  said “We don’t think it’s sensible to single out particular sources of hydrocarbons. We’re talking about a spectrum here. The light oils on the planet are, broadly, gone. We’re going to have to look at heavier crudes”.

This will be music to the ear’s of the Canadians. It looks like the Canadians are winning the public relations battle on tar sands, with serious consequences for the climate.

And Hanover has played an important but covert role in persuading the world that it needs this dirty, dangerous oil.

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