Parliament boosts efforts to improve its environmental performance

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(Agustín Lautaro, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you in association with the European Parliament.


On Monday the Parliament’s Bureau, the body that lays down the institution is working rules, unveiled ambitious environmental targets for the 2019-2024 parliamentary term.

The European Parliament embraces its commitment to making a positive contribution to sustainable development politically, legislatively and operationally. European Parliament President, David Maria Sassoli, commenting on the Bureau decision, said:

“The climate emergency has become one of the most pressing issues of our time. This was evident in the last European elections, in which citizens put the fight for our planet at the very top of the EU’s political agenda. The European Parliament has been very active in reducing its environmental impact over the past few years. In fact, it has been carbon neutral since 2016 and we invite the other EU institutions to follow suit in jointly offsetting irreducible direct and indirect carbon emissions as soon as possible. However, we have to go further to live up to our commitment of continuously improving our environmental performance. These measures are a step in the right direction.”

Vice-President Heidi Hautala, who is responsible for the EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS), added:

“The European Parliament, an international institution employing many thousands individuals, is well placed to lead the transition towards a sustainable, climate-neutral, and resource-efficient European economy and society. We have already started to minimise our environmental impact and to promote the sustainability. But as time is running out, it is equally imperative that the EP regularly reassesses the targets and measures in order to raise its level of ambition. I see today’s decision of unified environmental targets of 2024 as an important step towards comprehensive sustainability reporting by the Parliament.”

The new target date of 2024 includes:

  • a carbon footprint reduction of at least 40 % compared to 2006
  • reducing carbon emissions from transporting people by 30 % compared to 2006
  • a reduction in energy consumption of at least 20% compared to 2012
  • reducing paper consumption by 50 % in 2019-2024 compared to 2010-2014.

Targets also cover reducing and managing waste, water consumption, renewable energy, and green public procurement.

What has been achieved so far – some examples

  • The EP was the first 100% carbon-neutral EU institution, offsetting all of its irreducible carbon emissions;
  • The EP has achieved a reduction in carbon emissions of 37.7% (compared to 2006);[1]
  • 100% ‘green’ electricity is used in the three places of work since 2006;
  • Technical infrastructure (heat pumps, cooling systems, etc.) is more energy efficient;
  • High-speed trains are used instead of charter flights between Brussels and Strasbourg;
  • Full-electric car fleet by 2024;
  • The bicycle fleet is growing all the time and e-bikes/-scooters have been introduced;
  • Consumption of gas, heating oil, and district heating per FTE, was reduced by 20,6 % from 2012 to 2018;
  • Electricity consumption decreased by 14.9 % since 2012;[2]
  • Waste-recycling rate increased to 69.1 %;
  • Single use plastic is being phased out – for example, no more plastic bottles in meetings and plastic bottles will also be eliminated from all vending machines, bars, restaurants and other sales points at the three places of work.

Background

The European Parliament signed its first environmental policy pledge in 2004 and joined the voluntary EMAS scheme in 2007. It became one of the first EU institutions and the first parliament in the EU to obtain EMAS certification. The EP’s environmental policy is based on the principle of preventing emissions and limiting them where they are unavoidable. However, emissions cannot be reduced to zero and when they cannot be limited any further, other options have to be explored. All recent environmental indicator targets have been met and were even exceeded, before their respective deadlines.

[1] The Parliament’s carbon footprint scope covers seven areas: energy consumption; leakage of refrigerant gases; freight; transport of persons; supply of equipment and services; direct waste; and fixed assets. This is the broadest possible scope according to ISO classifications, and it contains all direct, semi-direct and indirect emissions generated by the Parliament.

[2] the calculation is based on the number of employees – FTE = Full Time Equivalents

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