Thursday, December 17, 2009

We need to do more to find alternatives to animal testing

This week I am backing a campaign which if successful could lead to vastly increased funding for alternatives to animal testing.

I am calling on the European Commission to look at various options to increase the funding that goes into research on alternatives, including the viability of a 1% research levy on the selling price of products that contain ingredients that have been tested on animals.

I do understand that at present many researchers argue that some animal experiments are necessary to ensure the safety of products as there are no sufficient alternatives available. Therefore this proposal would go a long way to helping develop suitable alternatives. More information on the campaign can be found here

Monday, December 14, 2009

An open letter to David Cameron

Dear Mr Cameron,
At the start of the Copenhagen process on global climate change, you reassured us that the Conservative party is serious about curbing man-made global warming.

You tell us that your "front bench" view on climate change is the view that counts. But in Europe, this official party line is looking rather wobbly.

One of the leading Conservative experts on the environment, former MEP Caroline Jackson was among the first to sound the warning. She was sceptical of the 'green rebranding' of the Conservative party, "I think from the point of view of the Conservative Party, pursuing the green line is all talk and no action at the moment…when push comes to shove in the next General Election I suspect we will roll back from some of this”.

Other Conservative MEPs are busily proving her right. Roger Helmer MEP, an outspoken climate sceptic who sat on the European Parliament's Climate Change committee, told the Parliament's plenary earlier this year: "There is said to be a consensus around catastrophic man-made global warming. It (too) is wrong. Nor is it a consensus. The myth of consensus is a propaganda triumph for the Warmists."

Roger Helmer last week organised yet another event on the 'global climate change sceptics circuit' - a pre-Copenhagen briefing in the European Parliament, where a Dutch economist and a Viscount announced: "We are told that temperatures and sea levels are rising and the polar caps are melting. That is the bad news. The good news is that none of it is true."

Two weeks ago, Tory MEP Daniel Hannan suggested that the aim of the UN-driven Copenhagen talks - to bring in an international solution to an international problem - is somehow a conspiracy: "(The President of the European Council) Mr Van Rompuy declared that the Copenhagen Process would be a step towards the global management of our planet. We cannot be alone in being alarmed at the way in which the environmental agenda is being piggybacked by those who have a different agenda about the shifting of power away from national democracies."

Both MEPs voted to reject the European Parliament's resolution on the Copenhagen negotiations along with almost half of your Conservative Party's new European group.

Mr Cameron, you have attached historical importance to the Copenhagen summit. We know this may be our last chance to protect the planet.

The UK is going to Copenhagen as part of the European Union, with a common EU mandate. The denialist attitudes that your MEPs are propagating at the heart of Europe are at best, unhelpful, and at worst, dangerous. You recently threw a Conservative MEP out of your party for making a stand against the Conservatives' new allies in the European Parliament. Is climate change such a low priority for your party that climate saboteurs are given a free rein?

Glenis Willmott MEP
Linda McAvan MEP
and all other Labour MEPs

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Time for action

With climate change talks in Copenhagen upon us already the Socialist Group in the European Parliament have spelt out our key messages.

1 - Reduce emission
2 - Create jobs
3 - Fund developing countries

I spoke of this to Centre-Left leaders at a Party of European Socialists meeting on Monday.

I told them I felt proud of the achievements of Labour MEPs and the Socialist Group in the European Parliament. We put in place firm, practical measures that will see the EU's total emissions cut by 20% by 2020 based on 1990 levels and by a minimum 30% in the event of an international agreement at Copenhagen.

It is easy to say that this is too little, but we shouldn't forget that these are not just targets - but concrete legislative measures which demonstrate Europe's resolve and willingness and put us on a firm footing to go into these talks.

This will be key- as will financing. We simply will have no credibility if we cannot offer a meaningful and additional financial package to help the developing world - which has not had the benefit of our carbon-intensive development - to green their economies. And it must be additional to existing development aid commitments, not simply diverting money from pledges already made to help the world's poor.

It really is make or break time now and I am clear on the need to avoid a political fudge. What we need is an ambitious, comprehensive, legally enforceable agreement.

The time for words has long past.