European Parliament to go 'carbon neutral'

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Parliament to offset unavoidable emissions from 2016, making it the first EU institution to become 'carbon-neutral'.

The European Parliament has announced it will fully offset its unavoidable carbon emissions from 2016, making it the first EU institution to secure "carbon-neutral" status.

The move was decided last week by the parliament's bureau - made up of the president, vice-presidents and quaestors - and has been allocated up to €250,000 in funding.

Vice-president Ulrike Lunacek from the Greens/European Free Alliance, responsible for the EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme, said the move means the European Parliament "will play its part" in limiting climate change impacts ahead of the Paris Climate Summit later this month.

"Some weeks ahead of COP21 in Paris this is a great signal from inside the European Institutions showing that we are willing to live up to our goals," she said. "The EU will have to seriously raise its ambition if it is to play a positive role in making COP21 a success. In this way, Parliament is setting a good example in promoting best practice."

In line with its environmental policy to prioritise preventing or limiting emissions, the Parliament said it will continue efforts to reduce its direct carbon emissions and make better use of energy, water, and paper.

While the Parliament's previous offset scheme, introduced in 2011, only included emissions from official staff travel and energy use and technical installations in Parliament's buildings, the new scheme will offset all unavoidable emissions, including those from MEPs' flights to and from their countries of origin and Brussels and Strasbourg.

All offset projects receiving the funding are required to be registered under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, (UNFCCC) to ensure their legitimacy, with projects in the African, Caribbean and Pacific states prioritised for selection.

The European Parliament has pledged to reduce its carbon emissions 30 per cent from 2006 levels by 2020. The Parliament is already closing in on this target, having achieved a reduction of 27.2 per cent to date.

In a resolution passed in October on the Paris climate talks, the Parliament called on the EU and its member states to propose a 40 per cent emissions cut by 2030 and to scale up climate finance commitments. A delegation of 15 MEPs will attend the second week of the conference on behalf of the parliament.

SOURCE: Business Green, November 19th 2015: