Sunday

15th Sep 2019

Greens expose CO2 folly of Strasbourg parliament

The double seat arrangement of the European Parliament generates at least 20,000 extra tonnes of CO2 emissions – equalling 13,000 return flights from London to New York - according to a new study.

The report, written by consultancy agency Eco-Logica and commissioned by Green MEPs Caroline Lucas and Jean Lambert, will be presented in Strasbourg on Wednesday (25 April) and looks into the environmental costs of having two seats for the EU's assembly - in Brussels and Strasbourg.

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The climate change impact has been calculated by adding both the costs of maintenance of the separate seats - including the administration centre in Luxembourg - and the costs and CO2 emissions due to staff travelling between them.

When a plenary session is held in Strasbourg once a month – it is empty for the remaining 307 days of the year - 1,220 officials and other servants of the parliament and political groups travel from Brussels to Strasbourg while another 525 travel from Luxembourg to Strasbourg.

But it is not just people who have to get to the Alsatian capital but also all of their work paraphernalia. This means "fifteen lorries which ferry cupboards and tin trunks full of documents each month from Brussels or Luxembourg to Strasbourg and back again," according to the report.

As a whole, the costs of the "travelling circus" - as it is known by critics of the arrangement - amounts to around €200,000 per year, with the total cost of travelling plus the allowances people get for going to Strasbourg amounting to €18 million.

"A decision to adopt a one-seat mode of operation where that seat is Brussels would 'save' just over 20,000 tonnes of CO2 each year," argue the authors of the report.

Commenting on the study, Greens co-leader Monica Frassoni said "The European Parliament is set to vote on Wednesday to constitute a temporary committee on climate change. Before we start throwing stones however, we should make sure that our own house or houses are in order."

Scrapping the Strasbourg seat has been supported by over 1 million EU citizens in a recent online petition and it featured on the reform agenda of two of the candidates who ran for the institution's presidency in January.

But Strasbourg's position as one of the official seats of the European Parliament has been enshrined in the EU treaty since 1992 and only a unanimous decision by member states can change that provision.

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