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The European Parliament, representing 28 countries and more than 500 million people, voted Tuesday in support of phasing out glyphosate over the next five years and immediately banning its use in households.

"The European Parliament has correctly acknowledged the magnitude of glyphosate's risks," said Nathan Donley, a senior scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity. "Now European regulators charged with protecting human health and the environment must follow the parliament's brave leadership and phase out the gross overuse of glyphosate."

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Food & Water Europe

Today, members of the European Parliament’s Environment Committee overwhelmingly—51 in favor, 18 against—endorsed a proposal to impose a mandatory Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for all shale gas drilling activities in the European Union (EU). This is in line with the Parliament’s resolution on the environmental impacts of shale gas, voted in November 2012, which called on the European Commission to include “projects including hydraulic fracturing in Annex I of the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive.”¹

For Food & Water Europe, this is a major victory, as Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) showed a healthy dose of suspicion about the empty promises of the shale gas industry about its ability to guarantee so-called "safe fracking." Imposing a mandatory EIA for shale gas drilling is the start of adapting the EU regulatory framework to the ugly reality of unconventional hydrocarbons in the EU. This vote demonstrates a resolve among MEPs to avoid the negative impacts of an out-of-control boom in shale gas drilling in the U.S.

A mandatory EIA will provide local people and authorities with the necessary baseline data in areas with drilling, increase the preparedness among environmental agencies and local authorities and offer local communities an opportunity to be consulted early in the process. MEPs saw through the smokescreen of the numerous events to promote "sustainable fracking" in Brussels, organized by the fossil fuel industry and its allies.

“This vote to impose a mandatory EIA for all shale gas drilling was a litmus test for the resolve among MEPs to demand an adequate risk-management framework for shale gas activities in Europe,” said Food & Water Europe policy officer Geert De Cock. “The majority in favor of this proposal should be a boost of confidence for Environment Commissioner Potocnick to bring forward stringent proposals for this risky industry.”

The European Commission is scheduled to publish its proposals for a risk-management framework for unconventional hydrocarbon activities by the end of 2013, covering the wide range of risks associated with the practice of fracking. With today’s vote, MEPs clearly signaled to the Commission that stringent rules on chemicals use, well integrity, waste management, air and methane emissions and liability will find strong support in the European Parliament.

¹European Parliament (November 2012) EP resolution of Nov. 21, 2012 on the environmental impacts of shale gas and shale oil extraction activities (2011/2308(INI)).

Visit EcoWatch’s FRACKING page for more related news on this topic.

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International Union for Conservation of Nature

The critical role of coastal ecosystem management in curbing climate change and the need to fully integrate it in climate change and biodiversity policies were the focus of the Blue Carbon—Managing Coastal Ecosystems for Cimate Change Mitigation Symposium that  took place in the European Parliament in Brussels, Jan. 12.

“Preserving and restoring coastal and marine ecosystems should be fully integrated in all climate change mitigation strategies and biodiversity policies at the international and European level," argued Struan Stevenson, member of the European Parliament and chair of the symposium.

Pia Bucella, director in DG Environment, European Commission urged the European Parliament, as the political arm of the European Union, to raise the profile and encourage the integration of coastal blue carbon-based activities, such as the conservation and restoration of these systems, in climate change policies.

Blue carbon is the carbon stored by coastal and ocean ecosystems. A square mile of coastal ecosystems such as mangroves, seagrasses and tidal marshes, which can be found all over the world except Antarctica, can store and remove more carbon from oceans and the atmosphere than a square mile of mature tropical forests.

But coastal and marine ecosystems are facing some serious threats from pollution, coastal activities and unsustainable management practices. Speakers at the symposium warned that the continued disappearance of coastal ecosystems will have a negative impact on climate change—when lost, they stop sequestering CO2 and release the carbon they have been storing for centuries.

“A single 100g shrimp cocktail that is unsustainably produced through mangrove clearance can have a carbon footprint equivalent to 40 liters of gasoline," said Dr. Boone Kaufman, a professor at the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Oregon State University.

“Blue carbon provides new, compelling reasons to urgently prevent the loss of marine and coastal ecosystems and biodiversity," said Dan Laffoley, vice chair of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Commission on Protected Areas—Marine. “It’s not just about marine habitats or species, but also about the hidden value they have for humankind. Increasing the restoration and sustainable management of these critically important ecosystems through strong political leadership and ambitious actions is a necessary prerequisite for successful climate change strategies.”

“We need to employ a targeted strategy that prioritizes the conservation of specific, high-carbon coastal zones,” said Dr. Emily Pidgeon, senior director of Strategic Marine Initiatives at Conservation International. “The challenge we face is to show how these ecosystems provide a service, acting as a carbon sponge, and that their conservation does not stand as a roadblock to development or food production.”

Bringing together high level international and European policy makers and experts, the symposium was held back to back with the second workshop of the International Blue Carbon Policy Working Group.

The International Blue Carbon Policy Working Group is part of the Blue Carbon Initiative, the first integrated programme focused on mitigating climate change by conserving and restoring coastal marine ecosystems globally. The initiative is lead by Conservation International, IUCN, and the Intergovernmental Oceanic Commission of United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, working with partners from national governments, research institutions, nongovernmental organizations, coastal communities, intergovernmental and international bodies and other relevant stakeholders.

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