e-news 18th December 2015

Molly has just completed a busy week in Strasbourg, where MEPs vote on reports and resolutions prepared in the Parliament’s Committees.

Molly welcomes ground-breaking Paris Agreement on climate change
Commenting on the agreement by almost 200 countries, Molly said: 
“We should celebrate this unique and ground-breaking success for genuine global co-operation. What the Paris climate deal means is that the global economy has moved away from the fossil fuel era and onto a path towards a clean energy future, though making this transformation a reality will require widespread changes to the way we live and work.

“We must ensure that climate justice is a central part of the solution to climate change. This means we should not fund climate pledges through private finance, which will lock poorer countries into paying investors in richer countries. We need to fund climate solutions through a combination of public money and directly created global credit.”
Molly blasts government over fracking
Molly has blasted the Tories for voting through controversial proposals to allow fracking under National Parks and other protected areas. Following a vote in the Commons, which did not allow any debate, fracking will be allowed to take place 1,200 metres below protection zones. This reverses a previous government pledge that no drilling would take place under such landscapes. Molly said:
“In the South West, we have a number of areas that are protected by national and, in some cases, international law. It is also a region that relies heavily on tourism, so this decision could prove extremely costly not just for our precious environment and landscapes but also for our rural economy.
“Driving forwards a new fossil fuel industry in the UK is simply not compatible with a pledge to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees and decarbonise our economy. If the UK government is really committed to keeping its end of the Paris deal, it must rethink its support for fracking and invest in safe, clean, renewable energy instead.”

In August, some 22 licence blocks for oil and gas extraction were issued across Dorset, Wiltshire and Somerset alone, impacting on many sensitive and designated areas, including the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, Poole Harbour, The Quantock Hills, Exmoor National Park, and Salisbury Plain to name just a few. 

Visit to Somerset Levels to see flood management plans
Molly was joined by Green Party leader Natalie Bennett on a visit to the Somerset Levels, an area devastated by the winter floods of 2013/14. They both met with representatives from the new Somerset Rivers Authority (SRA) to hear about flood management plans and climate change adaption strategies. Molly was particularly impressed with what she saw. She said:
“I was heartened to see how the communities of Somerset are working together to build resilience against future floods. The emphasis on whole catchment management and working with natural systems to ‘slow the flow’ is the most effective way of managing the intense rainfall that climate change is bringing. Areas that are designed to hold such water can also provide excellent habitats for wildlife and in future we believe that such land use should attract payments through Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) funding.”
The visit took place during the Paris talks on climate change. Natalie Bennett said:
“Somerset is showing how a community can work together to manage and adapt to a changing climate but the Paris Agreement offers a unique opportunity to shape a better future for us all.” Full story
Antibiotics in farming
Molly has welcomed a report calling for the use of antibiotics in agriculture to be cut back or even, in critical cases, banned. The report, commissioned by David Cameron, reaffirms changes in policy and practice that the Greens in the European Parliament have been campaigning for. Molly is a member of the European Parliament’s Agricultural Committee. She said:
“Excessive and inappropriate deployment of antimicrobials in agriculture is leading to resistance, and this raises serious concerns for human and animal health. Greens say that good farm hygiene must be implemented as a preventive measure against disease, before any recourse to medicines. There is clearly a link between intensive rearing and high density stocking and the spread of disease. We need to ensure that human and animal health is put before the interests and profits of industrial scale farming.” Full story
Greens making a positive difference in Europe: A summary of key Green achievements in Strasbourg
Fighting tax avoidance
A majority of MEPs voted for several Green proposals, all championed by Molly this year, on tackling tax avoidance in Europe such as public Country by Country Reporting (CBCR), a Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base and a more comprehensive definition of tax havens. A Green amendment calling for the creation of a special fund to support tax whistleblowers was narrowly defeated by 338 to 328 votes. If this measure had been backed by the Tories it would have been adopted. Full story
Tighter rules on arms exports
A majority of MEPs backed a report by Green MEP Bodil Valero calling for a tighteneing up of EU rules and practices on arms exports. European arms continue to end up in the hands of repressive regimes, terrorists and criminals, fuelling the conflicts in those countries. MEPs have called for stricter risk assessment before granting arms export deals and on-site inspections of the end users of arms.
Investigating ‘dieselgate’
Greens succeeded in their campaign to win support for the setting up of a parliamentary inquiry committee into the ‘dieselgate’ car pollution scandal, in which Volkswagen rigged diesel emissions test. Greens persuaded MEPs of the need for this as the European Commission is also implicated in the scandal. Greens say it is essential to investigate whether the Commission failed to act on evidence that car manufacturers were avoiding complying with EU car pollution rules.
…And why Greens want greater powers for the European Parliament
In a clear rebuke to the European Commission, The European Parliament voted to object to the authorisation of a new glyphosate-resistant GM maize variety for use in the EU. However, the Commission proceeded to finalise the authorisation despite the Parliament’s Environment Committee having voted to object to the authorisation and without waiting for the outcome of the vote by all MEPs. Further details