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Parliament adopts climate change package

The European Parliament has adopted the EU climate change package by a strong majority at its plenary session in Strasbourg, France. MEPs voted on six

The European Parliament has adopted the EU climate change package by a strong majority at its plenary session in Strasbourg, France. MEPs voted on six proposals which together should enable the EU to meet its ambitious goals of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 20%, improving energy efficiency by 20%, and increasing the share of renewables in the EU’s energy mix to 20%, all by 2020. The package also sets out the EU’s plan to commit to a 30% cut in greenhouse gas emissions if a satisfactory international agreement is reached.

The legislation agreed by the parliamentarians establishes a more ambitious Emissions Trading System (ETS), imposes emissions targets for new cars of 120g CO2 per kilometre and sets out a framework for the construction and operation of up to 12 demonstration projects for carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. They also set binding national targets for each Member State to reduce emissions from sources not covered by the ETS (such as road and sea transport, services, buildings and agriculture) and revised the fuel quality directive to reduce the environmental impacts arising from the extraction, processing and combustion of transport fuels.

‘The EU’s climate and energy package is part of the solution both to the climate crisis and to the current economic and financial crisis. It represents a green “new deal” which will enhance the competitiveness of EU industry in an increasingly carbon-constrained world,’ said European Commission President José Manuel Barroso. ‘Moving to a low carbon economy will encourage innovation, provide new business opportunities and create new green jobs.’

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Many MEPs also hailed the agreement as ‘historic’.

‘With the adoption today of the energy-climate package, the European Parliament has taken an historic step in the fight against the climate changes which threaten to make life unbearable on our planet,’ said Joseph Daul MEP, Chairman of the EPP-ED Group, after the vote. ‘Thanks to the vote in the European Parliament today, Europe is putting itself on the frontline in the fight to save the environment, and will assume its role as a world leader in this field at the Copenhagen summit in 2009.’

However, many thought the legislation did not go far enough. ‘The climate package as it stands after today’s vote fails to meet what the European Parliament wanted and clearly falls far short of the scientific consensus on the necessary measures needed to tackle climate change,’ commented Finnish Green MEP Satu Hassi, Vice-Chair of the European Parliament’s Environment Committee.

Nevertheless, others maintain that getting the package through the legislative process was a major achievement. ‘Of course we would have liked to have taken it further, but we should be happy that 27 Member States have reached an agreement,’ noted Swedish liberal MEP Lena Ek. ‘Rejecting this compromise is no option, since it would leave us with empty hands in Copenhagen.’

Green groups also thought the legislation could have gone further, with Greenpeace urging the EU to cut emissions by at least 30%. ‘Science tells us we need at least 30%, and we need it here, in Europe,’ stated Greenpeace’s Climate and Energy Policy directory Joris den Blanken. ‘We cannot afford to continue with business as usual.’

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On the research front, EuropaBio welcomed the vote, saying it gave the biotech industry a predictable business environment to develop advanced biofuels. ‘Setting a two-step approach for the greenhouse gas emission savings threshold, together with incentives for second generation biofuels will drive public support and increase private sector investment in research and development to speed up the development and commercialisation of second generation or advanced biofuels,’ said the Chair of EuropaBio’s Biofuels Task Force, Kirsten Birkegaard.

Meanwhile the car industry called for support to help it meet the targets set out in the climate package. ‘The legislation requires the industry to continue to invest heavily in R&D [research and development] and new product programmes in order to reach the short-term target,’ reads a statement from auto industry group ACEA. ‘Furthermore, the long-term CO2 target set by the EU will require technological breakthroughs, new refuelling infrastructure and a swift renewal of the car fleet on Europe’s roads.’

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Category: General policy
Data Source Provider: European Commission, European Parliament, other sources
Document Reference: Based on information from the European Commission, European Parliament and other sources
Subject Index: Biofuels; Climate change & Carbon cycle research; Clean coal technologies ; Economic Aspects; Environmental Protection; Energy Saving; Fossil Fuels; Industrial Manufacture; Innovation, Technology Transfer; Other Energy Topics; Policies; Renewable Sources of Energy; Scientific Research; Sustainable development ; Other Technology; Transport

RCN: 30264


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