La Treizième Étoile: 06/12/09 - 13/12/09 Blog Archives
News from the European Union with a focus on the South West UK and Gibraltar region and its MEPs
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'Only if the right actions are taken will we survive' - Tuvalu PM issues call to save his country from extinction

Thursday, 10 December 2009
Tuvalu may be a small, low-lying country, but it is certainly determined to stand up tall to defend itself and its own existence.

The country's Prime Minister Apisai Ielemia (below) appeared before members of the Parliament's Committee on Development (DEVE) today to discuss the impact of climate change and its effects on Small Island Developing States.

H.E. Apisai Ielemia, Prime Minister of the State of Tuvalu by ajburgess, on Flickr

Tuvalu is certainly qualifies as a small state - the collection of islands in the Pacific Ocean cumulatively account for 10 square miles of land area making it the third smallest state in the world, larger only than the Vatican City and Monaco.

Furthermore, the islands are called home by just short of 12,000 people - a number more than two times inferior than the number of people currently employed at the European Commission...

Tuvalu Map Illustration - click to enlargeAt its highest point, the country is only a little over four metres above sea-level and in places the island measures less than one mile from coast to coast. As a result successive Tuvaluan leaders have stated that their state will be the first victim of the rising sea level associated with global warming.

Despite their small size, they are making their message heard in a big way. Yesterday, their representative caused disruption to proceedings at the important UN Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen with what is now being referred to as the Tuvalu Proposal.

This proposal envisages deeper cuts in global emissions than those that are currently under discussion, demands the global temperature rise be limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius rather than 2 degrees currently being touted and that any agreement reached will be legally binding.

"We want a legally binging agreement," Mr Ielemia told MEPs. "All countries must make concrete pledges to reducing the effects of climate change".

Mr Ielemia spoke of the efforts his country is making to build up its natural defences and do its part in reducing emissions "even though they are tiny compared to those of other countries", and explicitly outright dismissed the possibility of any future resettlement of Tuvalu people.

"While Tuvalu faces an uncertain future because of climate change," he said, "it is our view that Tuvaluans will remain in Tuvalu."

"We will fight to keep our country, our culture and our way of living. We are not considering any migration scheme. We believe if the right actions are taken to address climate change, Tuvalu will survive."

The low-lying but largest atoll of Tuvalu, Funafuti, which could vanish if the 'right action is not taken soon'

Michael Cashman (S&D, UK), in response to Mr Ielemia's plea, said "we need a commitment of funds, not just words at Copenhagen."

"This reminder of the impacts of climate change could not come at a better time" he said. "You will not fight alone. We will fight with you".

Maurice Ponga (EPP, FR) spoke about the ever-present need to raise MEPs' awareness of the "daily crisis facing people on these islands", saying "let us find the funding so that the people of Tuvalu do not have to move."

Charles Goerens (ALDE, LU) argued that funding for fighting climate change should not be sent instead of existing Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitments. "Funding for fighting climate change should be allocated in addition. The existing money for development is already insufficient and we risk not meeting the Millennium Developments Goals", he said.

Noting that Tuvalu had recently come top in the "Happy Planet Index", which measures the well-being of nations while taking account of their environmental impact, Isabelle Lövin (SE) on behalf of the Greens/EFA group said that "industrialised countries have to learn a lot from islands like Tuvalu about good living and the way of using our resources."


Cross-party group of MEPs call for 30% cut in EU emissions

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

It was in a poorly-attended (just me) press conference this morning that GLOBE EU, a cross-party group of 33 MEPs representing 12 EU Member States, joined forces with 100 national parliamentarians from 19 EU Member States to make an impassioned plea for EU leaders to commit to a target of a 30% emissions cut for 2020 in Copenhagen.

The open letter signed by MEPs Sirpa Pietikäinen (EPP, FI), Vittorio Prodi (S&D, IT), Satu Hassi (Greens, FI) and my local MEP Graham Watson (ALDE, UK), urges negotiators in Copenhagen to commit themselves firmly to the 30% target saying "it is the right thing to do for the negotiations, and the best strategy for Europe's economy."

"The recession has not only lowered our emissions and thus bought us closer to a 30% goal; it has also brought the price of emission cuts down," the letter reads. "Now the 30% cut has the same price tag as the 20% reduction target of last year. We must use this opportunity."

GLOBE EU chair Ms Pietikäinen said: “One year ago, EU governments showed leadership by agreeing to a firm 20% emissions reduction target, and 30% if other developed countries joined the effort. Waiting for others to move is no longer proof of leadership.”

Mr Watson, vice-chair of GLOBE EU, added: “It is perfectly within our capacity to make the green energy switch, even at a time of economic difficulty. If we do so we will create hundreds of thousands of new jobs, boost economic growth in quantity and quality and preserve the planet for our grandchildren.”

This week also saw the launch of a new policy paper by the group entitled "Breakthrough or breakdown? How the EU action could resolve the climate deadlock" which outlines a policy roadmap to deliver this target.

You can view this policy paper by clicking here.

Note: GLOBE EU is a cross-party group of MEPs with an interest in being closely engaged in shaping EU policy developments in the fields of environment, sustainability and global warming. Together they provide what their website describes as "a platform for the timely discussion of upcoming policy proposals and for co-ordinating political action within the European Parliament".

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Coincidence? Copenhagen named the "greenest" major city in Europe

Copenhagen, the city playing host to the important UN Climate Change Conference seeking to secure a deal to replace the Kyoto agreement to save the planet from climate change, has been named the "greenest" major city in Europe in the first-ever European Green City Index produced by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Swedish capital Stockholm came in second place followed by Oslo (Norway), Vienna (Austria), and Amsterdam (Netherlands).

The Belgian and European Union capital Brussels was ranked at number nine just ahead of Paris and London which found themselves in 1oth and 11th place respectively in the table.

This is the conclusion reached by a unique study of the environmental sustainability of 30 major cities in 30 European countries whose findings were announced last night as the COP15 Summit opens in the Danish capital.

The study evaluated the 30 cities in eight categories including C02 emissions, energy, buildings, transportation, water, air quality, waste and land use, and environmental governance.

James Watson, managing editor at the Economist Intelligence Unit and the editor of the study, speaking at the press briefing, said: "our analysis indicates that European cities are leaders in environmental performance. In particular, almost all of the 30 cities - which are home to a total of nearly 75 million inhabitants - average lower per capita CO2 emissions than EU countries."


The result cannot therefore come as much of a surprise as Scandinavian cities generally achieve high scores in these fields as awareness of environmental protection in these cities is more longstanding, reflected in the cities' ambitious climate targets. Copenhagen, for example, aims to be carbon free by 2025.

Click here to read the full report (pdf, 12MB) *


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