By Martin Banks - 5th July 2011
MEPs have voted against extending the EU's greenhouse gas emissions target to 30 per cent
MEPs have voted against extending the EU's greenhouse gas emissions target to 30 per cent.
A vote on the proposal was lost in parliament in their plenary session on Tuesday by just nine votes.
The vote in Strasbourg was seen by green campaigners as a crucial opportunity to put pressure on the commission to come forward with proposals for a new 30 per cent target.
However, proposals to remove the call for an EU target of 30 per cent were carried by 326 votes to 317 with 17 abstentions.
A full record of how individual MEPs voted will be published later on Tuesday but it seems likely that UK Conservative MEPs made a key difference on the crucial vote.
A number of them had made it clear in advance of the vote that they would not support the target.
With the 30 per cent target and other crucial environmental measures defeated in the vote, centre-left and green MEPs refused to support the overall proposals meaning that the package failed to achieve a majority.
Parliament has therefore failed to adopt any position on emissions targets.
Reaction was swift with Labour's leader in parliament, Glenis Willmott, taking a swipe at the Tories for their apparent fall-out with party leader David Cameron.
She said, "MEPs have voted against extending the EU's greenhouse gas emissions target to 30 per cent on environmental policy.
"It looks like these proposals would have gone through had the Conservative MEPs given them their support. Instead they have taken the pressure to act off the European commission and EU countries.
"This leaves the government's claim to be winning the argument on EU emissions in tatters.
Further comment came from Jason Anderson, head of climate and energy policy at WWF European policy office.
She said, "Weakened as it was, it made sense to reject the report. It's unfortunate that half of parliament was unable to acknowledge the benefits for the European economy, and the advantages the EU would get in the race to a climate safe future."
"The environment council failed to reach unanimity two weeks ago on a commission think-piece, and now parliament rejected its own non-legislative report.
"This is a truly sad statement about European leadership, and it points to one thing: it's time to stop having symbolic conversations and get on with needed legislation to combat dangerous climate change and put us on a path to sustainable energy."
Elsewhere, Catherine Pearce, of the European Environmental Bureau, said, "It appears short term political interest has overtaken long term public needs when it comes to voting for 30 per cent reductions.
"Sadly there are some laggards in parliament who still fail to recognise the clear benefits of moving to 30 per cent and the ease of doing so."
A spokesman for Conservative MEPs, said, "Both Conservative MEPs and the coalition government support moving towards a 30 percent reduction in CO2.
"Conservative MEPs supported an amendment proposed by the EPP group which proposes moving to a 30 per cent reduction when conditions allow. There is no fundamental difference between Conservative MEPs and the government on the substance of the issue."