Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Greens in the European Parliament - batteries and aviation

Green MEPs Jean Lambert and Caroline Lucas have been busy this week in the European parliament. The European Parliament has today approved the Battery Directive, which will mean that schemes for the collection of used batteries and accumulators are set up throughout Europe by 2008. Belgium, Austria, France and Germany have had collection schemes for portable batteries in place for some time now and the UK will now have to do the same to reach a minimum collection rate of 25% by 2012 and 45% by 2016. At the moment, I think the Landmanns Way site in New Cross is the only place to take used batteries to in Lewisham and I'm not sure if that's all batteries or just car batteries. According to the directive, easily accessible collection points must be available to consumers by 2008 and distributors will have to take back the used batteries at no cost regardless of when they were sold. Sounds like a good idea to me.

Euro-MPs also voted to adopt proposals drafted by Green Party MEP Caroline Lucas to introduce a range of measures including an airlines-only CO 2 Emissions Trading Scheme and emissions charges to tackle their non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions.

The aviation sector is one of the fastest growing sources of carbon emissions yet airlines currently enjoy tax breaks and hidden subsidies worth more than £9 billion in the UK alone. Apparently MEPs were intensively lobbied by the airlines in recent weeks, yet fortunately they don't seem to have caved into their demands for air travel to be included in the EU's existing Emissions Trading Scheme. The proposals aren't yet law, Caroline's report will now form the Parliament's submission to the EU Commission's forthcoming legislative proposals, but it could be on the EU statute book by 2008. See article in Independent and also Airport Watchs Rethink website.

Also in the Independent, a survey apparently shows strong support for householders to be charged for the disposal of non-recyclable waste. When the topic of recycling has come up in class with my students (I'm an EFL teacher and it's surprising how often environmental issues come up in my classes ;)!), Koreans always explain that they are charged according to how much waste they produce, that they have to buy special (expensive) rubbish bags for non-recyclable waste, which acts as an incentive to recycle more. They don't seem to question it and are critical of how little they see recycled here, but it would take quite a change in mindset to successfully implement this in the UK.

1 comment:

Mike State said...

On the subject of air pollution, were you aware that Joan Ruddock took time out from circumnavigating the globe to limit night flights over Lewisham. Check it on http://www.joanruddock.org.uk/news/newsitem.jsp?newsid=175

Are there any plans to surcharge vacuous public servants for the damage done to the ozone layer from the junket journeys or their personal CO2 emissions?