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Thursday, 11 September 2008


I spent most of this morning in Industry Committee where MEPs were voting on several key pieces of environmental legislation. The reports were on extending the European emissions trading system (known as ETS); on carbon capture and storage (CCS); and on renewable energy.
As the Industry Committee is one of the big legislative committees, I normally get a huge amount of lobbying on most reports - but never more so than on environmental issues.

The votes went well and there was pretty good agreement between many of the political groups. The committee supported keeping the 20% target for renewable energy by 2020 and also adopted strict sustainability criteria for the use of biofuels. The Socialists, Liberals and Greens also won a review clause on the use of renewables - this means an assessment of the impacts of renewable transport fuels on food and feed production before 2014.

The British Tories frequently talk about renegotiating the UK's membership of the European Union, indeed many Tory MEPs think we should pull out of the EU altogether. If the Tories think we can tackle climate change without any cooperation at EU level, they must be living on another planet. Indeed, this is one of the reasons why the Swedish green party are becoming more pro-European.

These are big, heavyweight reports that will have a real impact on the energy sector and on helping Europe meet its targets towards cutting CO2 emissions. You just have to look at the number of lobbyists and NGOs packing the committee room to see that the decisions MEPs take have a real impact on environmental legislation. If there was nothing at stake, the lobbyists wouldn't be interested.

These reports have now passed through the committee stage. There will soon be further negotiations between Parliament and the European Commission and Council before a final vote is taken at a full sitting of the Parliament. Don't expect the lobbyists to go away any time soon!

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