Why does Europe matter? As far as Green issues are concerned, there is surely no question. The sheer weight and scope of Europe makes possible an impact on the Green agenda which no individual nation alone can hope to achieve.
EU law covers a range of environmental issues, from protection of the natural environment and the provision of clean water, to the disposal of waste.
The EU has played a leading role globally in the fight against climate change.
It remains the only major economic block to pass legally binding targets for the reduction of carbon emissions. In 2008 MEPs and Ministers from the 27 EU member countries passed a package of measures to tackle climate change: to achieve a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions; to improve energy efficiency by 20%; and to increase to 20% the percentage of EU energy created from renewable sources from 1990 levels by the year 2020.
To meet these targets, the EU has implemented a number of policy changes.
It has increased the range of industries covered by a cap on carbon emissions via the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and set binding emissions reductions targets for each member state in areas not covered by the ETS, known as ‘effort sharing’.
A fund to promote the development of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) has been set up allocating up to €1 billion for the development of new plants across Europe.
Tougher CO2 emission performance standards for passenger cars have been implemented to drive the development of low emission engines, with fines payable by manufacturers that do not comply.
A mandatory target for each EU member state has been set which fixes the percentage of energy to come from renewable sources.
And finally, a fuel quality directive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from all fuel types by 10% by 2020 has been implemented.
Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire are in a position to reap the benefits of these policies.
Our region with its history of coal mining and heavy industry has the highest C02 emissions of any other UK region. But EU policies are driving investment in modern technology and our region is home to four proposed Carbon Capture and Storage power plants and proposals for the world’s largest offshore wind farm off the region’s coast.
If realised, these developments would put this region at the forefront of the new green technology industry.
Local Impact of EU Legislation: Recycling
The EU has set the UK a target recycling rate of 45% by 2015 and 50% by 2020.
This has driven much of the increase in recycling by local councils that we have seen in recent years, with door-step collections of materials including paper, glass bottles and jars, tin cans and plastics.
In addition, the EU’s WEEE Directive means electrical and electronic goods are properly recycled, plus it prevents hazardous waste of this kind being illegally shipped off to developing countries to be dumped.
The Labour Party participates fully in the EU’s activities.
Its MEPs have real clout in Europe, and play a full role in its agendas.
Linda McAvan, Labour’s Yorkshire and Humber MEP, for example, is the spokesperson on the environment and climate change for Labour and the Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) group in the European Parliament. Her role on the Environment Committee of the European Parliament enables her to shape legislation that improves the environment and tackles greenhouse gas emissions.
There is much still to do.
To date, greenhouse gas emissions have fallen by 17% at EU level.
But this has been partly as a result of the recession and so tougher targets need to be implemented to achieve the anticipated move towards a low-carbon economy.
Only by voting for a party which participates fully in Europe can you influence the EU. Only by voting for a party which participates fully in Europe can you influence Europe’s Green agenda.
Vote Labour in the EU elections on May 22 – make your vote count.
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[This post is largely taken from Linda’s own website. You can read more about Labour and EU there -http://www.lindamcavanmep.org.uk]