Two-Base EU Parliament Seeks Carbon Neutral Status
STRASBOURG, France -- The European Parliament, accused of contributing to climate change by holding sessions in both France and Belgium, discussed proposals on Tuesday aimed at cutting its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
The proposals, aimed at a "carbon neutral" parliament, included greater use of energy from renewable sources, more use of public transport by members of parliament, use of hybrid vehicles for parliamentary duties and more video conferencing.
But the additional pollution caused by hundreds of members of parliament shuttling between its two seats in Brussels and Strasbourg every month was not addressed, an official of the parliament said.
"The parliament will take a decision on what can realistically be achieved," he said, adding it was up the to the 27 EU member states to decide where parliament should hold its sittings.
Under a 1992 EU treaty, the parliament must hold at least 12 four-day plenary sessions a year in the French city, and France is keen to keep the assembly in its territory.
This means a few thousand parliament members, aides, interpreters, lobbyists and journalists trekking monthly to Strasbourg by plane, train and car.
A report for the Greens group issued last month found that each year the parliament emitted 20,268 extra tonnes of CO2 -- equivalent to 13,000 return transatlantic flights and more than some small island countries emit on their own -- as a result.
As well as the increased emissions, the travelling costs taxpayers more than 200 million euros ($269 million) year.
The president of the parliament, Hans-Gert Poettering discussed the proposals for emission cuts with members of the parliament's environment committee.
He said they would form the basis of a plan for a "carbon neutral" parliament to be put forward for approval on June 18.