Global warming: beyond Kyoto
plenary session Thursday 7 October 2004
Mr PLATVOET (Netherlands). – I am usually a fairly positive guy. That is why I dare to say that a report by this Assembly can have a big influence even if it has not yet been adopted. If not, I cannot explain why the Russian Government decided to give the Duma the opportunity to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.
On behalf of the UEL, I thank the rapporteur, Mr Meale, for his outstanding report entitled “Global warming: beyond Kyoto”. Although it is very tough for many countries to reach the goals of the Kyoto Protocol, much more has to be done to save this planet from increasing pollution, which diminishes biodiversity and leads to the growing concentration of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
Of course, climate change is part of history, but it should not be happening so quickly. This policy needs fast and fundamental change – even regime change, especially in the United States of America. It is a shame that the Bush Government is deaf, dumb and blind in this respect and refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol. John Kerry says that he will, so I hope that we have to wait only a few more weeks.
The measures that are to be taken deal with four issues: industry, traffic, energy and farming. The report and the draft resolution make proposals aimed at restricting the damage that they inflict on the environment. It is necessary to raise taxes on activities such as air and car transport and polluting industries that damage the environment without paying the bill. It is necessary to develop and use alternatives to traditional energy sources such as sun, wind and biomass. It is necessary to reshape agriculture on the basis of sustainable development, which contributes to the health of people, animal welfare and fair opportunities for farmers in the third world.
The report describes such measures very well, but I want to add a few remarks. It is absolutely necessary to end the use of coal for energy because it is a major source of polluting emissions. The EU subsidies for the winning of coal, oil and gas are €15 billion a year. That money, which is paid by the taxpayer for the benefit of those companies, should be used to stimulate new investments in sustainable energy and affordable access to energy for people with low incomes. In addition, the World Bank should change subsidies on fossil fuels to encourage the use of sustainable sources of energy.
Apart from raising taxes and encouraging alternatives and voluntary agreements, it is necessary to boost the legal framework in which sustainable development can flourish. It should be obligatory that a minimum of 25% of energy production comes from sustainable sources. It should be obligatory that industrial emissions decline by 2007, when the trade in emissions starts.
Of course, the threat of terrorism is nowadays a much hotter item than the threat of global warming. Nevertheless, global warming affects all human beings, society and nature on this planet. That is why it is so important that the Council of Europe takes on a responsibility to contribute to encouraging the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol and looking beyond it.