MEPs today (5 July) rejected a report calling for the EU to set out an ambitious climate policy, saying that it did not go far enough to cut carbon emissions.
A majority of MEPs, led by the Greens and the Socialists and Democrats (S&D), voted to reject the non-binding report drafted by Bas Eickhout, a Dutch Green MEP. They did so after a group of 74 MEPs from the European People’s Party (EPP) and the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group managed to water down parts of the report, including removing a call for the EU to increase its CO2 reduction target to 30% by 2020.
An amendment to remove the call for the 30% target was carried by 326 votes to 317, with 17 abstentions. The call for a 30% cut in emissions by 2020 had been approved by the Parliament’s environment committee in May.
Eickhout said that he had no choice but to reject his own report after amendments presented by the group of 74 MEPs had been adopted.
“The amendments, which passed by the tightest of majorities, would have meant the final report was a step back from previous positions adopted by the European Parliament,” said Eickhout. “The least-worst outcome was to prevent the report from being adopted.”
He added that centre-right and conservative MEPs had their “heads in the sand with regard to climate policy”.
Eickhout said the current 20% emissions target for 2020 was already obsolete and was holding back future efforts to curb emissions under the EU’s emissions trading system as well as preventing investment in new green technologies.
Esther de Lange, a Dutch centre-right MEP, said the decision by the Greens and the S&D group to reject the report was a missed opportunity for the Parliament to push the EU’s climate policy forward.
She said the EPP was ready to support a higher emissions reduction target. “We proposed to raise the target to 25% through better energy efficiency,” said de Lange.
Environmental groups had hoped that the Parliament’s call for a 30% reduction would lead the European Commission to present plans to introduce a 30% target. Jason Anderson from environmental group WWF said the report’s rejection was “a truly sad statement about European leadership” on climate change.
A statement issued by Connie Hedegaard, the European commissioner for climate action, said the close vote “showed that there is a very large majority in the European Parliament which supports the idea of going beyond 20%”.
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