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MEPs have accused a United Nations agency of “undermining” EU waste policy.

The attack comes in a letter signed by a group of deputies to the European commission and executive board of the ‘clean development mechanism’ (CDM).

The CDM is the UN agency in charge of regulating the international carbon market.

The MEPs, in the letter, say the agency is “falling down” in its job and demand that it stops issuing carbon credits to landfills and incinerators.

The letter is signed by a cross-party group of MEPs, including Andrea Zanoni, Kriton Arsenis, Sirpa Pietikainen, Carl Schlyter, Raül Romeva, Satu Hassi, Margrete Auken, Sabine Wils, Kartika Tamara Liotard and Martina Anderson.

The letter says, “The EU is currently financing, through the purchase of carbon credits, incinerators and landfills in developing countries that would be illegal in the EU.

“These waste disposal projects contradict and undermine Europe’s official priorities.”

These, it says, include waste reduction, reuse, recycling, limiting toxic emissions from incineration, diverting organic waste from landfills and minimising greenhouse gas emissions.

It goes on, “If proposed in Europe, these projects would breach the waste framework directive, the landfill directive and the incineration directive.”

The MEPs say parliament is “fully committed” to the resource efficiency ‘roadmap’, which aims to ensure that all materials are efficiently used, recycled or composted and residual waste is brought as close to zero as possible.

The commission and member states, it says, “should immediately halt all investment in CDM-backed incinerators and landfills in order to maintain the integrity of their own efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions”.

Comment came from Finnish EPP member Sirpa Pietikainen, one of the signatories to the letter, who said, “In the EU, we are trying to reduce waste disposal in landfills and incinerators to a minimum.

“Now the CDM is supporting landfills and incinerators which would be illegal if built in the EU – and we are paying for them.

“The EU buys carbon credits issued by the CDM to projects which claim to reduce climate emissions, but not all projects do.”

Italian ALDE member Andrea Zanoni, another signatory, said, “The CDM must stop issuing credits to counterproductive waste projects. Otherwise, parliament will be forced to cut off support.”

Mariel Vilella, climate change campaign director for the global alliance for incinerator alternatives (GAIA), said, “The CDM is supposed to find ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

“But incinerators and landfills actually increase emissions. What’s worse, they are displacing an informal recycling economy that employs millions of people.”

GAIA’s recently published report, ‘EU’s double standards on waste and climate policy,’ says that the CDM projects include incinerators that “lack adequate pollution controls and maximise, rather than minimise, the burning of recyclables”.

It also claims that the CDM scheme also include landfills that “deliberately increase emissions of greenhouse gases in order to receive credit for capturing them”.

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