European Parliament Votes to Ratify Kyoto Protocol

STRASBOURG, France, February 6, 2002 (ENS) - Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voted today by a huge majority of 540 to four with 10 abstentions to support European Union ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, as proposed by the European Commission late last year.

Under the EU treaty the European Parliament has only limited "consultation" powers over the ratification instrument, and in any case the proposal is likely to receive a similar welcome from ministers when they debate it at next month's Environment Council. But in a resolution accompanying the vote, MEPs called for more co-decision power in agreeing to future European Union commitments that would deepen cuts in greenhouse gas emissions linked to global climate change.

Poettering

Hans-Gert Poettering of Germany chairs the largest group of MEPs in the European Parliament, the combined Christian Democrats and European Democrats which holds 233 seats. (Photos courtesy European Parliament)
Under the Kyoto Protocol, an addition to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, 38 industrialized nations have agreed to cut their emissions of six greenhouse gases. Thirty-nine countries were to have been governed by the original agreement signed in Kyoto, Japan in December 1997, but President George W. Bush said soon after taking office last year that the United States would not ratify the protocol although the U.S. emits roughly one-quarter of all greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere.

The Kyoto Protocol will not take effect until it is ratified by 55 percent of the nations responsible for at least 55 percent of the total carbon dioxide emissions in 1990.

The countries that ratify must reduce emissions of carbon dioxide to an average of 5.2 percent below 1990 levels during the five year period 2008 to 2012. European Union countries must cut greenhouse gas emissions an average of eight percent below 1990 levels.

In other business, the parliament yesterday adopted without amendment a ministerial common position on an EU law that imposes curbs on air pollution from two and three wheeled motor vehicles. The law will now enter force as foreseen in that agreement - with vehicles subject to stricter emission limits for carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides from 2003.

Cohn-Bendit

Daniel Marc Cohn-Bendit of France is copresident of the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance which holds 45 seats.
A stricter set of emissions limits outlined for introduction in 2006 will remain voluntary pending a European Commission review. MEPs in the parliament's Environment Committee had wanted these later limits to be fixed as mandatory now to encourage engine innovation, but they failed to win over enough of their colleagues at this week's plenary session in Strasbourg.

In a vote yesterday, the parliament also passed a European Commission proposal to add 25 newly classified carcinogenic, mutagenic and reprotoxic chemicals to the list of outlawed substances under the 1976 statute known as the Marketing and Use Directive.

The MEPs also called for the ban under that law to be extended to include listed substances when they are used in finished consumer products. Currently the ban applies only to chemicals sold individually or in preparations.