October 21, 2011 / 2:03 PM / 6 years ago

EU says can defend Canada oil sands plan at WTO -letter

BRUSSELS, Oct 21 (Reuters) - European Union proposals to rank Canadian oil sands as a highly polluting fuel can probably be defended if Ottawa challenges the move at the World Trade Organization (WTO), legal advisers to the EU’s executive have said.

“The Commission’s Legal Service has provided reassurance that the greenhouse gas methodology set out in the implementing directive... may probably be defended in the case of a challenge before the WTO,” said a letter sent to EU government experts by the bloc’s executive, seen by Reuters on Friday.

The Commission letter said legal advice showed the proposal is science-based and non-discriminatory, but that even if WTO authorities disagreed, it would claim a derogation under global trade rules designed to conserve finite natural resources to defend the plan.

The proposed EU ranking assigns oil sands a default greenhouse gas value of 107 grams of carbon per megajoule, making it clear to buyers that it has a greater climate impact than conventional crude oil, whose value is 87.5 grams. (Reporting by Barbara Lewis and Charlie Dunmore)

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