Oxford becomes the first "tar free city" in Europe

Oxford City Council declared itself a ‘tar-free city' on June 24 by voting in favour of a motion to reject oil from Canada's oil sands. Oxford is now the first European city to declare itself "tar-free", joining other U.S. citites and towns which have opposed the use of crude from the oil sands on the basis of its carbon-intensive extraction process. 

Here is the full wording of the motion: 

This council notes that: Canada’s tar sands are the biggest energy project in the world. Already, millions of barrels of tar sands oil have been extracted from the Canadian wilderness, decimating the landscape and producing 3.2 to 4.5 times more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional oil extraction (as calculated for example by the US Government’s National Energy Technology Laboratory). Nearby First Nations communities are also being devastated by the loss of their traditional lands and access to food and medicine. In 2008, Alberta Health confirmed a 30 per cent rise of cancer rates between 1995 – 2006 in Fort Chipewyan, a nearby community.

Although tar sands oil hasn’t yet arrived in the UK insignificant quantities, its large-scale import is highly likely as Canada attempts to find new markets for export. Opening up Europe and the UK to tar sands would be a green light for more reckless expansion of this huge industry.

This council also notes that: the City Council’s Carbon Management Plan states that the council “places environmental sustainability and carbon reduction at the heart of everything that the Council does”, and believes that an important part of the city’s responsibility in “provid[ing] wider leadership…in reducing the overall carbon footprint of the City” is rejecting tar sands for the carbon-intensive fuel that they are.

This council therefore resolves to:

1. Rejects tar sands as an acceptable source of liquid fuel, and declare Oxford a ‘Tar Free City’;

2. Include measures in its future liquid fuels procurement policies which will ensure that tar sands will not be part of the fuel mix it purchases for its vehicle and plant fleet.

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