In early August the European Commission admitted an European Citizens Initiative (ECI) proposal to “Suspend the 2009 EU Climate & Energy Package- the EU’s plans for cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 20% and to increase the use of renewable energy by 2020. The objective of the initiative aims to halt “further climate regulations until a climate agreement is signed by major CO2 emitters - China, USA, and India.
The organisers can now start collecting the one million signatures needed for the Commission to consider it. The initiative’s proponents include Ludwik Dorn, a Polish politician; Fay Patricia Kelly-Tuncay, who leads the UK Campaign to Repeal the Climate Change Act; and Vitezslav Kremlik, who chairs the Czech blog.
“Fossil fuel companies have a long history, both in the US and in Europe, of covertly financing opponents of government action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” Corporate Europe Observatory warns.
The Commission is not obliged to propose legislation based on an initiative, but must explain if it decides not to. If the Commission does come up with a proposal, it will then follow the normal legislative procedure, which usually means it must pass through the European Parliament and Council before it becomes law.
The other eight initiatives that were still collecting signatures on 14 August deal with the following topics:
Responsible waste management
Common education goals
Phasing out of animal testing
Voting rights for EU citizens living in another member state
Protection of human embryos in research, development aid and public health
Access to water
Carbon Emissions and Health
The Health and Environment Alliance explains; “Reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) will coincidentally lead to a reduction of other air pollutants such as fine particles, sulphur dioxide or nitrogen oxides, which cause major problems for air quality in Europe.. Evidence that improved air quality leads to health benefits is abundant in dozens of published papers.
Air pollution is still a major public health problem in Europe with a wide range of health impacts that reduce life expectancy and increase illness, especially respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. Nearly half a million Europeans die prematurely each year because of air pollution, but there is also a significant impact from sickness and on people’s quality of life and productivity (i.e. days of restricted activity and work days lost because of illness).”
The European Commission Staff Working Paper entitled “Analysis of options to move beyond 20% greenhouse gas emissions reductions: member states’ results” estimates the health benefits of moving the emissions cuts targets from 20% to 30% will save the EU between €3.4 and €7.9 billion annually from 2020.
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