The change of leadership at the helm of the Environment and Public Health Committee (ENVI) of the European Parliament is by far the move with the greatest direct impact on policy that took place during the reshuffle. As EP insiders know, ENVI is one of the committees that deals with the biggest number of legislative / binding decisions. Moreover, the environment-related subjects are also the most disputed files in the EP: a measurement by VoteWatch Europe indicates that it is on environment where the EPP and the S&D vote against each other the most (about half of the time, compared to only 24% overall). Continue Reading
The EU Parliament adopted a resolution constituting the mandate for its delegation to COP 21, the UN climate change conference that will take place in Paris in December 2015. The adopted text urges the EU to demand a legally binding and ambitious agreement. Although the final document received cross-party support, key differences remain between the political families, which sets the stage for further difficult negotiations.
Concretely, MEPs coming from the leftist groups and ALDE formed a majority in favour of more ambitious legally-binding targets. Their position is that the EU should lead the way and go ahead with 3 binding targets, an energy-efficiency target of 40%, a renewable energy target of 30% by 2030 and a greenhouse-gas (GHG) reduction target of at least 40% (compared to 1990 levels). These forces have also asked for a roadmap to completely eliminate greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050.
On the other hand, the conservative forces, EPP and ECR, prefer a more gradual approach that would allow various economic sectors more time to adjust without losing competitiveness. EPP and ECR proposed that the full elimination of CO2 emissions should be envisaged by the end of the century, as 2050 is considered an unrealistic deadline. Moreover, the centre-right euro-parliamentarians are of the opinion that the EU should be more cautious in establishing its own binding targets in the absence of a legally-binding agreement at global level, since the lack of a level-playing field would put the European industry (and its jobs) at a disadvantage when trying to sell its products and services on the global market. This view was not shared by the left and ALDE, who currently rally a majority in the European Parliament on environmental matters, and who are more inclined to believe that if Europe takes the lead this would put pressure on the other global players to do the same.
Through this report, the EU Parliament also calls on the Member States to urgently take binding and concrete measures against climate change and pull their weight towards an ambitious and legally binding agreement in Paris this December. However, the voting behavior of some key delegations of MEPs whose parties are governing in their countries seems to indicate that these governments have reservations. Concretely, Angela Merkel’s German CDU/CSU delegation, David Cameron’s Conservative delegation, Polish Law&Justice Party (of the new prime-minister Beata Szydlo) and Mariano Rajoy’s Partido Popular delegation all voted for a more gradual approach towards achieving environmental objectives.