Agreement on the Emission Trading System

Brussels 13/12/08

Agreement between the EP and Council on EU ETS
Today around lunchtime the European Parliament and the Council struck a deal on how to reform the EU Emission Trading Scheme.

– Unfortunately we have missed the chance to create a well functioning trading system but at least the result of the deal means improvements compared to how the system functions today, says Jens Holm and GUE/NGL shadow rapporteur.

– It is very disappointing that up to 50% of the total reduction efforts under the ETS will be allowed to take place outside the EU through Clean Development Mechanism projects. But at least we have a cap of these projects and the possibility to restrict the use of them if the quality proves to be inferior, Holm continues.

– I am happy with the fact that the principle of auctioning, that you have to pay for your emission rights, becomes dominant which is a great difference in comparison to the current system. Unfortunately the deal includes many derogations from this principle. It could have been much better, says Holm.

Today’s deal includes the following:
* The new provision will enter into force in 2013:
* The EU ETS sectors will need to reduce their total emissions with the 21% by 2020 in comparison with 2005 emissions levels;
* 100% auctioning for the power sector but with derogations for the basically the new Member States (including Italy). These countries will receive 70% of their emission allowances for free in 2013 but which will gradually decrease to 2020 when full auctioning will apply;
* Remaining sectors will receive 80% of their emission allowances for free in 2013 but which shall decrease to 30% in 2020. Not until 2027 will 100% auctioning apply;
* Those sectors that might be subject to carbon-leakage (international competition), eg the steel, cement, paper – and chemical industry,  will receive all their emission allowances for free;
* At least 50% of the auctioning revenues should go to climate mitigation and adaptation measures (EU and developing countries) but this is only voluntarily for the Member States;
* A CDM cap is set to 50% of the total reduction effort. Measures is also introduced that will safeguard the quality of this projects.

Pozan: GUE/NGL on the Climate Package

Poznan, 12/12/2008

European Parliament must do all in its power to strengthen Council decisions on climate change

MEPs representing the European United Left/Nordic Green Left Bairbre de Brún (Ireland), Jens Holm (Sweden) and Roberto Musacchio (Italy), who are attending the UN climate change talks in Poznan this week, were strongly critical of the draft decisions emerging from the European Council on climate change today and said that the European Parliament must do everything in its power to strengthen these over the next few days.

Said Bairbre de Brún: ”The Council draft decisions are very disappointing and not as strong as they should be. We must do all that we can to strengthen this package of  legislation in advance of the European Parliament vote next week. If the EU sends a signal that effective actions to tackle climate change can only happen in times of prosperity, how can Europe possibly ask developing countries to act now?”

Jens Holm said he considered  ”unacceptable that more than 50% of EU reductions will be done in other countries. This undermines Europe’s credibility as being a pioneer in the combat against climate change.” However, he remarked that one of the only positive things in the Council’s texts is that there is some earmarking and a decision that 50% of revenues should be used for climate adaptation in both developed and developing countries.

According to Roberto Musacchio ”the Council’s text is not good, not acceptable. It confirms my view that governments have no real understanding of the climate situation. We must all remember that we are in a co-decision procedure, so the European Parliament’s position is very important and this position will be confirmed within the next week. Our group will be doing its utmost to change the Council proposal.”

Gianfranco Battistini +32 475 64 66 28
Gay Kavanagh +32  473 842 320 – Press contact in Poznan

Support Cyklopen Youth Cultural Center!

Support Cyklopen Youth Cultural Center!
November 29, the Cyklopen Youth Cultural Center in southern Stockholm was completely destroyed by arson. At the time that the fire broke out, Network Against Racism was to have had a function in the building. Fortunately, the activity had been cancelled shortly before. In all likelihood, neo-nazi groups are responsible for the attack, which is the theory that the police are pursuing.

The fire occurred the evening before the neo-nazis’ annual November 30 demonstration, and one week before their annual demonstration in the Stockholm suburb of Salem. Network Against Racism, which had rented the facilities in Cyklopen for the evening in question, has been active in the opposition to the neo-nazis’ demonstrations. Two days after the fire at Cyklopen, the apartment of a Stockholm family that has been active in anti-racism work was the target of an arson attack, an act that was nearly fatal.

The Cyklopen building was designed and built by the Culture Campaign association and financed by donations and a few grants. The building was largely finished when it was dedicated in September of 2007. The building was used by about 1000 people a month during the spring and summer of 2008.

The destruction of Cyklopen is a great loss for culture in Stockholm. Stockholm politicians must act to see that the Culture Campaign now receives necessary economic support and a new, permanent building permit for a location where a new, safer building can be erected.

Groups with sinister purposes cannot be allowed to succeed in sabotaging a popular culture project! We call upon everybody to unite against rasism and neo-nazist groups.

Jens Holm, Member of the European Parliament, GUE/NGL, Sweden
Eva-Britt Svensson, Member of the European Parliament, GUE/NGL, Sweden
Kartika Liotard, Member of the European Parliament, GUE/NGL, The Netherlands
Sören Söndergaard, Member of the European Parliament, GUE/NGL, Denmark
Willy Meyer, Member of the European Parliament, GUE/NGL, Spain
Esko Seppänen, Member of the European Parliament, GUE/NGL, Finland
Thomas Raeck, vice-General secretary GUE/NGL, Germany
Roberto Galtieri, GUE/NGL, PdCI, Italy

It is also possible to support Cyklopen economically via:
IBAN:    SE 0995000099603416075525

GUE to Poznan

Brussels, 08/12/2008

GUE/NGL delegation in Poznán for UN climate change conference
MEPs Bairbre de Brún (Ireland), Roberto Musacchio (Italy) and Jens Holm (Sweden) from the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) group are part of a 33-member European Parliament delegation heading off this week to the United Nations Climate Change Conference which started on 1 December in Poznán, Poland.

This two-week meeting marks the half-way stage in negotiations from the agreement on the Bali Road Map in 2007 aiming to reach an ambitious and effective international response to climate change. The deal is due to be clinched in Copenhagen at the end of 2009 and should take effect in 2013, the year after the Kyoto Protocol expires.

The EP delegation will have regular briefings with Commissioner Dimas and the head of EU negotiators. The EP delegation will also organise two side events on the state of play on the climate/energy package due to be adopted during next plenary session in Strasbourg in mid-December.

GUE/NGL activities in Poznan
GUE/NGL MEPs will be engaging in bilateral meetings with representatives from Polish and other European left parties, NGOs and individuals and interest groups and will be participating in or observing discussions organised by the Parliament between international negotiators and MEPs, particularly with the US President Elect Barack Obama’s transition team, which will be in Poznan, and may reveal elements of the incoming US administration’s broad policy agenda and priorities on climate change there. 

Roberto Musacchio, Vice-Chair of the Parliament’s Temporary Committee on Climate Change, is co-chairing a working group on technology/energy organised by the Parliament which will be meeting at various stages during the five days.

All these events will give our MEPs an opportunity to meet players and exchange ideas, formally and informally, about the future international agreement, to explain their positions and make their views more widely known.

GUE/NGL on climate change
The GUE/NGL group believes that any future regime should be equitable and based on historical responsibility and have as its basis a ”common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities”.

The group opposes any move towards an agreement based on the lowest common denominator.  It believes that developing a new green economy is our most promising path out of the present crisis and that green technology can be the basis of a new industrial revolution.

Above all, the group reiterates its ongoing commitment to less developed countries and will do all in its power to ensure that the developing world does not pay the price for the historic actions of industrialised countries. It advocates help for the poorest nations and most vulnerable communities to adapt to climate change, the promotion of growth and the eradication of poverty with a view to sustainable development, assistance to developing countries in the deployment of sustainable and efficient technologies by means of adequate financing and capacity building measures.

GUE/NGL & tropical deforestation
The issue of tropical deforestation, which is high on the agenda in Poznan, is another of the group’s concerns and it advocates performance-based incentives to avoid deforestation as part of the future climate change regime. In this respect, the GUE/NGL delegation will be meeting with representatives of indigenous peoples from Latin America, whose livelihoods are threatened by tropical deforestation.

GUE/NGL & the funding question
Estimations of the financial resources needed for both mitigation and adaptation and the financial mechanisms which need to be put in place to pay the costs of climate change are also high on the agenda in Poznan. The GUE/NGL delegation will be following closely the preparations for an agreement on funding being hammered out by negotiators as well as the European Commission’s proposals on EU funding, including earmarking of additional funds gained through emissions auctioning schemes. 
In advance of a possible intermediary climate change conference, which may take place between now and the Copenhagen conference scheduled for December 2009, the GUE/NGL firmly believes that the current financial crisis cannot be used as an excuse by the EU leaders not to honour their commitments on climate change, but rather to see climate change as part of the solution, an opportunity to make industry greener and to create new jobs.

GUE/NGL press contact in Poznán: Gay Kavanagh +32  473 842 320

Climate committee: reduce meat consumption

Big success in today´s vote at the Climate Committee:
The excact wording here (text first in Swedish, then English).

Brussels, 02/12/2008

A report voted today by the European Parliament’s Temporary Committee on Climate Change, drawn up by Conservative MEP Karl Heinz Florenz, concludes the work of this committee by putting forward a series of recommendations for a future EU integrated policy on climate change.

Speaking after the vote, Roberto Musacchio (GUE/NGL, Italy),  Vice-Chair of the Committee, said he was satisfied with the report which he said stresses the importance of adopting sectoral targets on energy efficiency as well as using public procurement to support renewable energies. ”I am particularly satisfied that nuclear energy is not considered as an alternative or renewable energy contributing to the reduction of CO2 emissions,” he said.

Expressing his satisfaction that the Committee had approved a reduction in meat consumption, particularly in the industrialised world, Jens Holm (GUE/NGL, Sweden), shadow rapporteur for GUE/NGL, said that the meat industry was one of the ”world’s greatest climate villains. It’s almost historical to get such a wide support for the demand to reduce meat consumption”.

The Climate Committee also decided to sharpen the reduction target for GHGs in the EU by demanding reductions of about 25-40 percent by 2020 and of at least 80 percent by 2050. ”We in the GUE/NGL group would have preferred to get support for more stringent reduction targets, but this is a reasonable compromise. Now it is up to the EU to deliver,” he said.

The report also highlighted the fact that poor countries are hardest hit by climate change and demanded significant increases in financial support for work being done on climate issues in developing countries. ”It is the rich countries which have caused the climate problem and therefore they have to solve it. It is good that the committee clearly recognises the need for substantial increases in resources for the world’s poor,” MEP Holm said.

For his part, GUE/NGL MEP Dimitrios Papadimoulis said that the report adopted by the Temporary Committee on Climate Change establishes important guidelines for future EU policies and sets ambitious long-term and intermediary targets for the reduction of CO2 emissions. ”I am particularly pleased that the report explicitly asks the Council to come with a common position on the proposed directive on soil protection and desertification.”


Lisbon Treaty in Sweden – a Vote for the EU-state

Regret to inform that a couple of minutes ago the Swedish parliament did – as expected – approve the Lisbon treaty. The Left Party and the Greens voted against. The vote was preceeded by a 9 hours long debate. The Left Party´s proposal on postponing the whole vote (in order to gain time) didn´t gain any major support either. 1/6 (59) our of the 349 MPs was needed for that.

The final outcome was.
Yes: 243
No: 39
Abst: 13
The Left Party has 22 MPs and the Greens 19 -> 41 critics. A few of them couldn´t attend the vote, that´s why we didn´t even sum up to 41.
So Sweden becomes the 25th country to sign. A pity.

Animal experiments directive – finally

Finally, a year late, the EU Commission has submitted its proposal for a new directive for the protection of animals used in scientific experiments. The Environmental Commissioner, Stavros Dimas, had promised that the directive would be submitted on repeated occasions, including at my conference last spring. The current directive (86/609EEC) is 22 years old, so the need was great for a modern animal protection law.

In brief, the Commission’s new proposal means:
* That experiments on animals may only be used where no other alternative is available.

My comment: a very good proposal that, if actually followed, can lead to a reduction in the number of animals exploited. A similar law is already in effect in Sweden but has not lead to reductions; on the contrary, animal experimentation is on the increase in Sweden and the EU.

* Animal experiments “must be reduced to a minimum.”
My comment: as above, all well and good if it is taken seriously. The same provision is already contained in the current directive; but perhaps it can be said that language has been strengthened, with references to the “3 Rs” (Reduction, Refinement and Replacement), etc.

* Animal experiments are banned with respect to the big apes (chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans and Bonobos monkeys).
My comment: this is fine, but unfortunately there are a number of exceptions made. Additionally, no such experimentation is conducted in Europe today. And sadly, there is no plan for phasing out the use of primates, as we in the European Parliament have demanded.

* A ban on experimentation with apes and primates captured in the wild is instituted.
My comment: again, good but not exactly revolutionary.

* Ethical review prior to each animal experiment is established.
My comment: this is also good and is similar to the system already in place in Sweden with what is known as “ethical animal experimentation councils.” Unfortunately the system doesn’t work very well. Of course, it’s better than no system at all for ethical review.

* Minimum requirements for how animals are to be kept are established.
My comment: good but, once again, hardly revolutionary.

1. It’s good that the proposal has finally been submitted, but the delay was unacceptable. We have been nagging the Commission about this for a long time.

2. It’s a shame that concrete requirements for minimum annual reductions in the use of animals have not been included (in the way that they have for greenhouse gas emissions). This should have been a natural consequence of the ambition to reduce animal experimentation to “a minimum”. Over 12 million animals are killed in research each year, fully half-a-million of them in Sweden. The numbers are increasing in Sweden as well as the EU.

3. It’s disappointing that there is no plan for phasing out animal experiments using primates (macaques, Rhesus monkeys, etc.), as demanded by the European Parliament last year.

4. It’s particularly shocking that no clear reference is made to the EU’s center for the evaluation of alternative methods, ECVAM, with promises of increased funding and a plan for how alternatives to animal experimentation are to be developed. The center’s industrious manager, Thomas Hartung was fired last spring.

5. The proposal now comes before the EU Parliament and those of us in the environment committee. The battle has just begun!

P S The Swedish Fund for Research Without Animal Experiments have just granted funding to Hans-Gustaf Ljunggren, Karolinska Institutet, for research on alternatives to the use of chimpanzees in Hepatitis C research. Yes, there are indeed alternatives!

Open Letter to the New Commissioner: Business Europe Out of Charlemagne Now!

Below my open letter to the new commissioner, Baroness Catherine Ashton.
Or as downloaded at: Ashton_openletter_HOLM.doc
Strasbourg, October 22, 2008

Open letter to the newly appointed trade commissioner, Baroness Catherine Ashton
Business Europe Out of Charlemagne Now!
Baroness Ashton, welcome to your new position as EU Trade Commissioner. I am hopeful that we will be able to collaborate successfully, especially on environmental and global justice issues.

During the autumn of 2006 your predecessor, Peter Mandelson an SEO professional, presented the strategy document Global Europe. Many of us were surprised at the excessive demands for deregulation of trade and the opening of global markets to European companies. Global Europe, seen as the Lisbon strategy’s external dimension, was shaped by the Commission’s staff in close cooperation with European big business and their lobbying organization in Brussels, Business Europe.

The EU is fond of speaking about the conditions and priorities of poor countries. But actions speak louder than words. The EU’s current trade policy is clearly contrary to sustainable development, and stresses the commercial interests of big business over the fight against poverty and for fair trade rules. A significant part of the reason for this is the presence of Business Europe and its influence on the setting of the Union’s trade policies.

The intimate relationship between the Directorate-General for Trade and Business Europe has long been a cause for concern. But the fact that the collaboration has now advanced and been made more concrete is more than a little worrying. It is, in fact, very distressing that Business Europe is organizing the conference ”Going Global” on October 28 in the Commission’s own premises in Brussels, with the participation of several commissioners, for the purpose of evaluating Global Europe. This sends dangerous signals to the citizens of Europe at a time when the Union’s legitimacy is already questioned by many with diverse perspectives.

This can hardly be in line with the impartiality that is meant to be the natural character of the Commission. Baroness Ashton, you have a golden opportunity to correct the situation. I strongly encourage you to:
1. Treat Business Europe as the lobbying organization that it is.
2. Remove Business Europe from your premises at the Charlemagne building. They can afford to rent an office on the local property market.
3. Join the fight against poverty and for sustainable development through closer cooperation with developing countries and aid organizations in Europe.

With best regards,

Jens Holm, member of the Trade Committee, European Parliament