MEPs approve EU targets to cut plastic bag use by 80% – Chris Davies MEP

Chris Davies MEPToday the European Parliament voted in favour of dramatically cutting plastic bags use across Europe by 80% in 5 years. 539 MEPs voted in favour, 51 against and 72 abstained.

Figures from the European Commission show that over 100 billion carrier bags are used every year within the EU, working out at an average of 200 per person. 8 billion of these end up as litter, many of them in Europe’s seas, including in the English Channel and North Sea.

EU countries will be given the flexibility to choose how they reach a binding target of 50% reduction in plastic bag use within three years and 80% reduction within five years of the legislation coming into force.

Liberal Democrats in coalition government have announced a 5p charge per plastic bag to be introduced across the whole of the UK in 2015. In Wales supermarkets have reported reductions of up to 96% in the use of single-use plastic bags following the introduction of a 5p charge in 2011, suggesting the UK is already on track to meet the EU targets.

However, despite this Conservative MEPs have opposed the EU proposal, and attempted to put down a wrecking amendment that would have created a loophole by exempting all restaurants and cafeterias from the EU targets.

Liberal Democrat European Environment Spokesperson Chris Davies MEP commented:

“Discarded plastic bags are killing millions of marine animals each year. It’s become a massive problem across Europe and one we must deal with together.

“Every country has the right to decide what action to take, but the need to reduce the huge volumes of plastic waste we create should not be in dispute.

“But yet again we see the Conservatives dancing to the UKIP tune by trying to wreck this EU proposal.

“Liberal Democrats in government have already proposed measures to reduce plastic bag use in Britain, we are now leading the way in ensuring that similar measures are taken across the European continent.”

Notes to Editors

The full report voted today can be found here. The final legislation must still be approved by national governments in the EU Council.

Results of how individual MEPs voted will be published here on the European Parliament website at approximately 2pm BST.

Native wildlife to be protected from invasive species under EU proposal – Catherine Bearder MEP

Catherine Bearder MEP - South East EnglandThe European Parliament has backed proposals to tackle the spread of non-native animals and plants throughout the EU. It is estimated that over the past 20 years more than 12,000 invasive species have been recorded in Europe, costing nearly £10 billion annually in damage to local ecosystems. In the UK, where there are an estimated 2,000 invasive species present, the bill is thought to be at least £1.7bn a year.

These species can pose a major threat to local biodiversity. This includes the American mink, which has devastated local wildlife in parts of the UK, or “demon shrimp” which originated from the Black Sea and has disrupted ecosystems in Britain’s rivers and lakes. Some species such as Japanese knotweed have also caused significant damage to buildings while other pests have damaged agricultural yields or threatened human health by spreading disease.

Under the proposals, national governments would have to work together to detect invasive species placed on a list of high concern and to put in place measures to minimise the harm they cause. Initially it was proposed that this list should have a fixed cap of 50 non-native species, but MEPs have called for a more flexible approach that can be rapidly adapted to deal with new threats. The new law will require EU countries to analyse how invasive species enter the country, step up official checks at EU borders and develop long-term action plans on how to manage the troublesome species.

Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder, who was one of the lead negotiators on the legislation in the European Parliament’s trade committee, commented:

“Invasive species can cause huge damage to native plants and wildlife, but they also pose a threat to agriculture, buildings and to human health.

“They do not respect national borders and can be easily spread through trade, travel as well as the pet trade, so it’s vital we work alongside neighbouring countries to combat them.

“We need action at the local level to minimise the damage being caused, but even more important is preventative action at the national and European level to stop these troublesome species being introduced in the first place.”

Notes to Editors

The full report voted on today can be found here. The proposal must now be approved by national governments in the EU Council before it becomes law.

The cost of Invasive non-native species (INNS) to the British economy is estimated at £1.7 billion a year.

Chris Davies: Electric vehicles required to emit sound to protect blind pedestrians following MEP vote

Chris Davies MEPMEPs have voted to introduce mandatory acoustic vehicle alerting systems (AVAS) to new electric and hybrid cars in order to protect vulnerable road users. Currently these vehicles emit very little sound which is particularly dangerous for partially sighted and blind pedestrians.

Initial EU proposals from the European Commission called for the installation of an AVAS system to be done on a voluntary basis only, but Liberal Democrat MEPs successfully introduced an amendment making this a mandatory requirement for all electric and hybrid vehicles. Following today’s vote manufacturers in the EU will have 5 years to comply with the new rules.

The acoustic warning devices will make a sound very similar to that of cars with a regular combustion engine so that people will be able to clearly hear these vehicles, allowing them to judge how safe a road is to cross.

Liberal Democrat European Environment spokesperson Chris Davies commented:

“Quiet electric cars could become a common sight on our roads in years to come but we have to ensure that this doesn’t jeopardise the safety of blind and partially sighted people.

“Installing sound generators will ensure that all pedestrians are able to hear these vehicles and cross the road safely.

“By working at an EU level we have been able to place this requirement on all car manufacturers and prevent needless accidents in future. It’s a good demonstration of why Liberal Democrats insist that Britain must stay at the heart of decision-making in Europe.”

Notes to Editors

The final text of the report can be found here

Guide Dogs (formerly Guide Dogs for the Blind Association) campaigned for the introduction of AVAS for electronic vehicles at EU level

Chris Davies: Tories vote against EU proposals to reduce plastic bag waste

Chris Davies MEPThe European Parliament’s Environment Committee yesterday evening approved EU targets to significantly reduce the use of plastic bags, despite vocal opposition from Conservative MEPs.

An estimated 100 billion carrier bags are used per year in the EU, an average of around 200 per person. 8 billion of these end up as litter, many of them in Europe’s seas.
The EU proposal will set a target of reducing plastic bag use by 50% within three years and 80% by 2020.

Liberal Democrat European Environment spokesperson Chris Davies commented:

“It is clear that we need an EU-wide approach to prevent the enormous damage being done by plastic bag waste to Europe’s seas and beaches. Plastic bags not only blight our landscape, they pose a serious threat to marine wildlife.”

“Three-quarters of seabirds and one third of fish in the English Channel have been found to be contaminated by plastic waste, much of it from plastic bags.”

“By voting against these proposals, the Tories are sending out a clear signal that they don’t care about preserving our marine environment for future generations.”

Mr Davies added:

“Today’s vote sets an ambitious target while giving each each EU country the flexibility to decide how best to meet it.”

“Liberal Democrats have already led the way on this issue in Government with the introduction of a 5p charge for single use carrier bags from Autumn next year. We now want to see similar action taken across Europe.”

Davies: European Parliament backs report calling for EU action to promote carbon capture

Chris Davies MEP MEPs today overwhelmingly approved a report calling for EU action to kick-start the development of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology to reduce CO2 emissions from industry and power generation, with 524 voting in favour and just 141 against.

Liberal Democrat MEP Chris Davies, who authored the report, commented:

“With CO2 capture plants under construction in the USA, Canada and China, Europe could not only fail to achieve CO2 reductions at the least possible cost but also risks losing out on export orders.

“CCS can help to provide Europe with low carbon electricity even when the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining. Flagship projects to develop the technology need to be given financial support equivalent to that given to renewable energy.

“Most governments have yet to give thought to how they will achieve CO2 reductions of 80% or more by 2050. When they start to look to the long-term a significant number will realise that CCS could have a key role to play.”

The lead CCS project in Europe at present is in the UK. The British government is supporting a major engineering study into the use of the technology by the White Rose consortium at Drax power station in Yorkshire.

Chris Davies’ report calls on every EU country to publish a CO2-reduction strategy indicating how they will achieve the 2050 goal. Those governments that choose to endorse carbon capture would have to play an active role in providing financial support, assisting in the building of a pipeline network and helping to prepare storage sites. The MEP has also called for an EU-wide target to be agreed so that unused funds currently set aside for CCS are spent and a range of flagship projects brought forward. This would promote innovation, reduce costs and help make CCS become accepted as a viable option in the long-term.

Carbon capture innovation projects can now apply for £168m worth of funding for the development of clean energy under the EU’s 2014-2020 Horizon 2020 research framework. Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard told the Parliament on Monday that the promotion of CCS would feature in the climate and energy strategy that the European Commission will adopt next week.

Notes to editors

The full report can be found here.

UK government support for the development of CCS includes a £1 billion commercialisation competition to support the development commercial-scale CCS and a £125 million 4-year research programme

https://www.gov.uk/uk-carbon-capture-and-storage-government-funding-and-support#ccs-commercialisation-competition

The International Energy Agency says that CCS should be responsible for 20% of the CO2 reductions to be achieved globally by 2050.

Davies: MEPs approve back-loading to shore up EU emissions trading scheme

Chris Davies MEPMEPs voted today by 385 votes to 284 to support ‘back-loading’ proposals that will shore up the EU’s emissions trading scheme today by delaying the sale of carbon credits.

UK Liberal Democrat European environmental spokesperson Chris Davies commented after the vote:

“What should have been nothing more than a minor regulatory adjustment had become a test of the EU’s entire strategy on climate change. We must now ensure Europe takes the lead in the fight against global warming by pursuing long-term structural reform of the ETS.” Continue reading

Davies: EU move to tackle waste from plastic bags

Chris Davies MEPThe European Commission today proposed measures to reduce the amount of plastic bags littering the environment, polluting the marine system and killing wildlife across the EU.

In 2010, over 8 billion plastic carrier bags were littered in the EU, which translates to almost 200 plastic bags per EU citizen a year.

The European Commission proposal leaves it open to Member States to choose the most appropriate measures to reduce the overall usage such as charges, reduction targets or a ban under certain conditions.

Commenting on today’s proposals by the European Commission, Liberal Democrat European Environment spokesperson Chris Davies said: Continue reading

Davies/ Davey: Reform of EU emissions trading scheme crucial for green investment

Chris Davies MEP, Liberal Democrat Environment Spokesman in the European Parliament, today asked what steps the European Commission is taking to reform the EU’s emissions trading system (ETS) in a parliamentary question to Environment Commissioner Connie Hedegaard.

Chris Davies said:

“The back-loading of carbon allowances approved by the European Parliament in July was an important step, but it was just a temporary sticking plaster.

“To really fix the EU’s Emissions Trading System, we need to treat the cause not just the symptoms. That means long-term structural reforms to shore up investment in green technologies, and the forging of links with other trading schemes to achieve a truly global carbon market.

“Structural reform of the ETS would also level the playing field for British industry, by bringing the price of carbon in the EU into line with our own ambitious carbon floor price.”

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey added Continue reading

Hall: Biofuel vote is step in the right direction

MEPs today voted in favour of a 6% cap on the amount of crops that can be used to generate energy for transport and in favour of taking indirect land use change (ILUC) factors into account, but postponed a final vote on biofuels until further deliberations.

The leader of the Lib Dem MEPs and European energy spokesperson, Fiona Hall, commented after the vote:

“Indirect land use change (ILUC) needs to be taken into account when evaluating biofuels and their potential to decarbonise the transport sector. The European Parliament signalled today that from 2020 crop-specific ILUC will indeed be factored into the calculations in the Fuel Quality Directive. Continue reading

Davies: backloading vote a stepping stone to deeper structural reform of EU ETS

Chris Davies MEPMEPs voted today to support the EU’s beleaguered emissions trading system (ETS), its principal tool in the fight against global warming.

The European Parliament gave its backing to ‘backloading’ proposals intended to support the price of carbon and maintain trading by delaying the sale of carbon allowance.

The hotly contested vote was widely seen as a test of support for EU efforts to reduce CO2 emissions at a time of economic crisis.

The UK Liberal Democrat European environmental spokesperson Chris Davies commented after the vote:

“What should have been a modest regulatory adjustment has taken on huge importance and had divided governments across Europe. Continue reading