Parliament pronounces on climate change

Resolutions passed on Kyoto protocol talks, climate change programme, emissions trading

The European Parliament last week adopted three resolutions outlining its position on global climate change and measures to tackle it ahead of international talks in the Hague which will finalise the detailed rules for implementing the 1997 Kyoto protocol on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

In the most topical resolution, the parliament followed a proposal from its environment committee earlier this month (ENDS Daily 20 October) and largely backed an EU negotiating position for the sixth conference of the parties (COP6) in November. The MEPs called for a cap on the use of "flexible mechanisms" to supplement domestic emission reductions and strong limits on the kind of emission reduction projects that will qualify under them.

But the resolution has left some environmentalists concerned that the parliament has emerged as less sceptical than EU governments on the use of carbon "sinks" - the practice of planting forests or adjusting land-use practices to soak up emissions.

Last June, environment ministers said that the science of sinks was still too muddy and that forest planting should not be allowed as an alternative to emission reductions until at least 2012. In their resolution, however, MEPs called only for the use of sinks to be "strongly restricted" until further research is available.

"It's a bit disturbing that the parliament can't put out a statement saying the same thing as ministers," Rob Bradley of Climate Network Europe told ENDS Daily today. "The statement has been consciously underworded... it suggests that the process has been hijacked by those with direct sinks interests."

In another report, the parliament backed criticisms made by rapporteur Jorge Moreira da Silva that a European Commission-drafted climate change programme, containing a list of "policies and measures" to reduce emissions, was "strategically weak" (ENDS Daily 29 August). However, MEPs toned down the complaints after the Commission explained that the programme would be fully elaborated after the COP6 talks are concluded.

In its last resolution, the parliament lined up with environmentalists (ENDS Daily 26 October) in welcoming a Commission green paper on greenhouse gas emissions trading but complaining that an equivalent effort should be put into domestic policies and measures.

Follow Up:
European Parliament, tel: 284 2111, and resolutions on COP6, the European Climate Change Programme and the emission trading green paper, here.

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