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.

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: New fishing quotas to rebuild fish stocks in 2014

Chris Davies MEP

Liberal Democrat MEP and European Environment Spokesman Chris Davies has welcomed news that national ministers meeting in Brussels have set annual fishing quotas that will allow fish stocks to recover in 2014.

The reformed EU Common Fisheries Policy, which will legally require fishing quotas to be set at sustainable levels based on scientific advice, does not technically come into force until 2014. However, ministers agreed to abide by the new rules for setting the catch and days-at-sea limits for 2014. Under the new quotas, 30 fish stocks will be at scientifically-advised maximum sustainable yield (MSY) levels by 2015, up from 25 stocks at present. Fishermen are also to receive support to help them adjust to the forthcoming ban on discarding fish.

Chris Davies, who formed the cross-party ‘Fish for the Future’ group to campaign for reform of the Common Fisheries Policy, commented:

“This is an important step towards sustainable fishing in Europe. Ministers have shown they are at last willing to implement reforms and to set quotas in line with scientific advice.

“Cod stocks in the North Sea have risen for seven years in succession, and with the right approach the same will be achieved in other fisheries. We have had the pain; soon we should start to see the gain.”

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: Final agreement reached on rebuilding Europe’s fish stocks

Picture shows Matthias Groote MEP, Chair of the Environment Committee of the European Parliament (left) with Chris Davies MEP (right) and Bill the Cod.

Major reforms aimed at rebuilding Europe’s depleted fish stocks have been agreed by MEPs meeting in Strasbourg today.The new EU Common Fisheries Policy will make it a legal requirement to set quotas for fish catches using maximum sustainable yields, with the aim of rebuilding fish stocks by 2020. It requires long-term management plans to be prepared for every fishery and devolves day-to-day decisions about fishing practice from Brussels to regional bodies.  A ban on the discard of fish will be phased in from 2015.

Liberal Democrat European Environment spokesman Chris Davies MEP, who formed the cross-party ‘Fish for the Future’ group, claimed the new policy demonstrated the importance of Britain playing a constructive role in Europe to achieve reform.

He said: “For too long decisions were made about fishing policy that ignored scientific advice, with the result that Europe now has to import two thirds of the fish we eat. 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: No fishy EU subsidies for fleet renewal

MEPs in Strasbourg today rejected calls for EU subsidies to be paid for building new fishing boats.

The European Parliament voted to support changes to the Common Fisheries Policy intended to curb overfishing and rebuild fish stocks.

The European Maritime & Fisheries Fund (EMFF) will provide €6 billion towards the fishing industry between 2014 and 2020. MEPs approved payment of subsidies to help fishermen adjust to change but not to catch more fish.

Lib Dem MEP Chris Davies, founder of the cross-party campaign group ‘Fish for the Future’, welcomed the decision as proof that the EU was serious about improving its fisheries policy.

“We still have too many boats chasing too few fish, so to use public money to pay for building new boats would only make the problem worse.

“Grants of this kind were halted nearly a decade ago, when 90% of the money was going to France, Spain and Portugal.  To have reinstated them would have been a crazy step backwards.” Continue reading

Davies/ Taylor: Today’s tobacco vote is a victory for e-cig campaigners

Liberal Democrat MEPs today won a major victory for e-cigarette users when the European Parliament backed their amendment which will ensure e-cigs are available for sale on the same basis as tobacco.

Chris Davies MEP said: “E-cigs can be a game changer in the fight against smoking.  Hundreds of former smokers have written to tell me that they have helped them give up cigarettes when nothing else worked.

“They are successful because they are not medicines but products that smokers enjoy using as an alternative to cigarettes. Continue reading