European climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard. Image courtesy of the European Commission.

The European Commission proposed Tuesday that the EU drop its mandatory requirement to label oil sands as highly polluting.

The Commission is an executive body responsible for passing legislation and managing the day-to-day functions of the EU.

The decision would clear one hurdle for exporting Canadian oil sands to Europe.

The proposal is part of a revised draft law that details how refiners must report the carbon intensity of their products, a measure of how much greenhouse gas a product emits.

The new proposal would allow refiners to report the average carbon intensity of their feedstock rather than specifically reporting on oil sands, Reuters said.

The proposal is part of a long standing debate in the EU about how to balance the union’s desire to cut greenhouse gas emissions with its fuel needs.

In 2009, EU members approved legislation that would cut greenhouse gas emissions from transport fuels by 6 percent by 2020. However, the member states could not agree how to implement the cuts.

In 2011, the European Commission said oil sands should receive a carbon value of a fifth higher than conventional oil but, again, member states could not decide how to carry out the policy.

Members states will debate the new proposal through a fast-track procedure that should last less than two months.

If the member states agree the legislation would go to the European Parliament for approval.

“It is no secret that our initial proposal could not go through due to resistance faced in some member states,” European climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard said.


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