One-minute speeches on matters of political importance

Kriton Arsenis (S&D )

Madam President, the major challenge facing mankind in terms of climate change is how we can stop building up more carbon in the atmosphere and start storing it in the ground.

Given that it is impossible for us to stop emitting carbon gases over the next 50 years, increasing carbon storage in the ground is our only hope and should be the priority of policies to combat this problem. In order to achieve this, we need to increase plant cover. As part of this effort, China has planted 54 million hectares of trees, with impressive repercussions on the availability of drinking water and agricultural productivity. Similarly, tree-planting programmes in Rwanda have resulted in such an increase in the flow of rivers towards the capital that it can now be powered solely by a hydroelectric plant.

In the same direction, the US House of Representatives has passed legislation under which the USA will pay USD 5 billion to deal with deforestation.

For these reasons, the stand taken by the Council, which not only has failed to commit to a specific amount in financing for developing countries, but also has failed to say anything about financing to maintain the world’s forests, is unacceptable at a time when there is no uniform policy or coordination at European Union level on the protection of forest eco-systems at risk in southern Europe.

Nonetheless, I trust that the European Union’s negotiations in Copenhagen will pro-actively support global efforts to put an end to deforestation and to increase tree-planting.