I have recently attended a lively Q&As session with Jean Lambert MEP (Green Party), hosted by the European Parliament Information Office in the UK. I asked her a few questions about the EU Parliament’s work on climate change and the upcoming UN climate conference in Paris, and this is what we learnt:
- On the EU’s leadership role in the run up to Paris 2015:
JL: “We need a major economic and political bloc to show some leadership in tackling climate change and in preparing the world leaders to sign a global climate deal. I used to think that the EU can play that leadership role, but now I am not convinced the new European Commission can face the challenges before us. I cannot see the joined-up thinking needed to lead the EU on a more just and sustainable path. It is also quite hard to work out who to work with on these issues within the current Commission.
But the Greens have been pushing on the EU to cut greenhouse gas emissions and we will keep pushing for a meaningful agreement in Paris.”
It is worth remembering that the UK’s Green MEPs opposed the appointment of the entire Commission last October, mainly because of the appointment of Miguel Arias Canete, an oil baron with family ties to the fossil fuel industry as Commissioner for Energy and Climate Action. But the Greens’ criticism goes beyond individual appointments.
- On her work over the next few months to help to ensure that a global response plan to climate change is secured in Paris:
“I will make getting the support for the global climate deal my campaign priority this year. One of the best ways to convince many sceptical MEPs is to work closely with countries outside the EU that have already been directly affected by climate change, and pull them into our discussions. We will be inviting representatives from these countries to speak at joint hearings with Health and Environmental Committees to make their experiences much more real for the decision-makers in Europe.”
- On a possibility to add sanctions [to the Paris deal] for the countries who fail to respect the deal:
“It is important to have strict sanctions in the agreement to show the global commitment, however I believe that it might be quite hard to execute them.”
- On her work with the EU members, such as coal-dependent Poland, who are opposed to action on climate change:
“There are so many conflicting interests in the Parliament – for example the UK and Poland are pro-fracking but it is banned in France in Germany. The best way forward is to put positive arguments on the table and discuss them to find a solution. Also an interaction with someone who has been affected by a particular issue can change people’s mind – hence our work with the non-EU countries as mentioned earlier.
Energy efficiency and renewables are very high on the EU Parliament’s agenda and I will work towards ensuring that debates on renewable energy take place because the EU needs to see the value in moving into renewables. It is also important to work with the coal and steel sectors and show them the business case [for using renewable energy] – not only moral value.”
- On hosting discussions/meetings on climate change:
“I hosted a meeting on climate change last October. These meetings are very important to discuss the issues on climate change and to build support for Paris 2015.”