John Gormley must assert green credentials at EU meetings
20 Oct 2008
Minister should support proposals from Avril Doyle and resist efforts to water down EU climate plan
Friends of the Earth has urged the Minister for the Environment, John Gormley, to support proposals from Fine Gael MEP, Avril Doyle, at today's meeting of EU environment ministers in Luxembourg. The ministers will be discussing the EU's proposed new climate change policies under pressure from all sides. Italy and Poland are leading a small group of member states who want the plans watered down, while the Parliament has recently tabled proposals to strengthen the package. A group led by Fine Gael MEP, Avril Doyle, has proposed an innovative scheme to help developing countries deal with climate change, to be funded by the sale of pollution permits to big business in Europe.
Friends of the Earth Director, Oisin Coghlan said
"Minister Gormley must resist efforts to water down EU climate policy. His positions on the key decisions over the next couple of days will tell us whether the Government is serious about tackling climate change. The Minister has called for cross-party cooperation. Supporting Avril Doyle's proposals is a golden opportunity to make that a reality."
Minister Gormley faces three key decisions:
The 2020 target
The Commission and the Parliament propose that the EU reduce its emissions by at least 20% by 2020 and that if there is new global deal on climate change next year that the target should automatically increase to 30%. A minority of member states and MEPs want a whole new round of internal EU negotiations in 2010 before the target could be raised to 30%. Reports from Brussels suggest that Irish officials have been siding with those who want to delay action. Minister Gormley must re-assert Irish support for a strong EU climate policy which is vital to getting a good global deal.
The Parliament has proposed giving the Commission the power to apply direct financial penalties to member states that fail to keep their commitments under the new climate package. Minister Gormley knows better than anyone around the table that without a strong enforcement mechanism some countries will not even try to meet their targets.
Help for developing countries
Avril Doyle is the Rapporteur for the MEPs working on the reform of the EU's emissions trading scheme for big polluters. Her group has proposed that 50% of the revenues from auctioning pollution permits under the ETS be earmarked for developing countries to help them tackle climate change. The poorest communities on Earth, who have done least to cause climate change, are being hit first and hardest. This proposal would go some way to help them cope.
"Over the last few days Minister Gormley has received hundreds of emails from supporters of Friends of the Earth, Trocaire and other members of the Stop Climate Chaos coalition. He knows that people back home will be watching the positions he takes. As a green minister who understands climate change we expect Minister Gormley will side with those, like Avril Doyle, who support a strong EU policy," Mr Coghlan concluded.