17th Oct 2019

EU climate ambitions are too low, MEPs say

The European Parliament has said that the greenhouse gas cuts recently proposed by the European Commission are insufficient, while also taking the green side in the controversy on car emissions.

MEPs meeting in Strasbourg on Wednesday (14 February) adopted with a clear majority - 616 for, 25 against and 30 abstentions - a resolution which "stresses the urgency of taking concrete action at global level to tackle climate change, as well as the need for political leadership to drive the process forward."

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Although the Strasbourg assembly welcomed the fact that both the commission and the current German EU presidency have put climate change at the core of their agenda, MEPs believe that more should be done.

They want a tougher target on cutting greenhouse gas emissions across the bloc calling for a 30 percent target from 1990 levels by 2020 - instead of the 20 percent proposed by the commission.

The parliament also wants the EU to aim for an 80 percent reduction target by 2050.

The commission in January said it wants EU member states to promote a 30 percent reduction of CO2 emissions by 2020 for developed countries in international negotiations - but it added that the EU should aim for a lower 20 percent target if an international deal fails.

"It's a tough aim but we really want to achieve this," said German centre-right MEP Peter Liese, adding he was concerned about what kind of signal a 20 percent EU target would send out when the bloc calls for a 30 percent international target. "It will undermine our negotiation position," he said.

UK green MEP Caroline Lucas said 30 percent "is the bare minimum of what we must aspire towards."

"Scientists have stressed that industrialised countries must reduce their emissions by at least this amount if we are to effectively tackle the climate crisis we are facing," she explained.

"EU member states must not show the same lack of ambition as the commission when they consider the energy package."

EU leaders will meet in Brussels on 8-9 March to discuss the commission's "common energy policy" proposal, presented in January, in which climate change plays an integral part.

Citizens involvement

The European Parliament resolution also "encourages much greater direct involvement…at the level of the European citizen."

"All of us can and have to do something and individuals can make a difference," said German centre-right MEP Karl-Heinz Florenz at a press conference in Strasbourg.

Mr Florenz, whose house in western Germany runs on solar energy and home-grown wood, wrote the resolution on behalf of the parliament's environment committee.

However, other MEPs think the EU assembly should get its own house in order first.

The Green group point out that the parliament spends on average 6,200,000 euro per year for electricity for its three buildings in Strasbourg, Brussels and Luxembourg, 1,857,929 euro on heating while the buildings emit 11,245 tonnes of carbon dixoide emissions.

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