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Procedure : 2011/2197(INI)
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Document selected : A7-0049/2012

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Debates :

PV 20/04/2012 - 6
CRE 20/04/2012 - 6

Votes :

PV 20/04/2012 - 10.8
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Texts adopted :


Friday, 20 April 2012 - Strasbourg OJ edition

6. Women and climate change (debate)
Video of the speeches

  President. – The first item is the report by Nicole Kiil-Nielsen, on behalf of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, on the motion for a resolution on women and climate change (2011/2197(INI)) (A7-0049/2012).


  Nicole Kiil-Nielsen, rapporteur. (FR) Mr President, I would like to thank my colleagues and to express my gratitude for the very interesting contributions I have received for this report which, I hope, will be the start of a growing awareness on the part of our institutions.

In an ideal Parliament, the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality would not exist and issues relating to gender and discrimination against women would be spontaneously integrated into all the matters we deal with here, because this is a cross-cutting issue. However, it is necessary to continue to drive the point home without any let-up because we Members of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality have a responsibility to remove women from the blind spot of European policies. This is particularly true of environmental issues. I would even go so far as to say that we will show in our report that women are not the green plants of ecology. The figures are staggering.

Women are 14 times more likely to die during cyclones, floods and earthquakes. In the tsunami that affected Asia in 2004, for example, and also in the heat wave that hit Europe in 2003, 70% of the victims were women. Why? Women do not have the same resources – economic, social or political – to adapt or even to flee.

On the other hand, in Honduras, thanks to a warning and disaster management system which included women from the outset, La Masica was the only town not to record a single death during and after hurricane Mitch.

Climate change remains an absolute priority but, in a context of economic crisis, ecology is not the only thing to regress. Women’s rights, too, are eroded and it is by linking the two that we are proposing a coherent political vision and effective solutions. In the past, whenever there was a crisis, whenever there was revolution, we were told that women’s rights would come afterwards. This line of reasoning is out of date and unsound. The challenges of climate change and that of justice and equality for women are intrinsically linked.

Women are not only victims to be protected. Women also have knowledge and proposals to make: not because they are, of course, different, but because we live in a society where roles are often gendered. Being a woman or a man has an impact on our daily lives, from the management of resources and access to education to the choice of occupation. These differences in experience are reflected in the solutions and ideas proposed.

In the report, we have identified four types of measures. Firstly, measures of representation. We are calling for women’s representation of at least 40% in political, financial and technical bodies. The voice of women and their organisations must be heard and supported. Secondly, measures concerning protection and training, establishing a virtuous cycle for women, from victims to agents of change. Thirdly, measures of education, not only to open up the future green economy and encourage women to pursue scientific and technical careers, but also to support the necessary changes in lifestyle patterns. Finally, as regards research, we need data disaggregated by sex to be collected to improve our understanding of the subject and our policy proposals.

To summarise the spirit of this report, we maintain that policies to combat climate change can be enriched through the integration of gender issues and that combating discrimination generates solutions that are more effective for the environment. It is a win-win line of reasoning.

As we approach the Rio+20 Summit, it is clear that there are no simple solutions to a challenge as complex and pressing as climate change. It is by broadening our way of thinking that we will find the resources to make a significant change for the better.



  Janez Potočnik, Member of the Commission. – Mr President, on behalf of the Commission and, in particular, of my colleague, Connie Hedegaard, who unfortunately cannot be here today, I very much welcome the report on women and climate change. I would like to thank the rapporteur for her excellent work and also for her very convincing opening statement.

This is a good opportunity to discuss how the EU can help women put their stamp on future climate policy. Climate change is already a fact of life for many on our planet, especially in the developing world. As you know, climate change effects hit the most vulnerable the hardest. In the poorest and least-developed countries, women, children and the elderly are the first to suffer. As the report rightly says, even though climate change is gender-neutral, its effects are gender-differentiated. When addressing climate change, the EU looks at how consumption and lifestyle patterns have an impact on our environment. By supporting sustainable, green, low-emission development, we are helping to mitigate the effects of climate change and to stimulate economic development, which will make the poor and vulnerable – predominantly women and children – the principal beneficiaries.

The EU supports mitigation actions through the geographic and thematic programmes of this development cooperation. As an example, I would like to mention the Sustainable Energy for All summit this week in Brussels, where two panels were dedicated to access to sustainable energy for women. Better access to modern sustainable energy – to cooking stoves, for example – will reduce the use of traditional biomass, which will, in turn, reduce deforestation. It will also increase the available time women have, which would otherwise be spent on collecting wood and cooking on inefficient fires.

We have to ensure that we have more of such win-win programmes. The EU also aims to mainstream climate change adaptation into EU policies including those on migration and disaster risk reduction. It is all about being forward-looking in order to minimise the inevitable adverse impacts of climate change and gender inequality. Gender is already among the 11 forms of social impact which should be screened as part of any impact assessment carried out today by the Commission before it makes any kind of proposal.

As underlined in the report, gender-neutral policies start with gender-balanced representation in policy definition. Decision makers need to listen to women and make use of their knowledge in adaptation and mitigation strategies. However, while women constitute the majority of the world’s poor, women’s voices are often insufficiently heard. Women are under-represented in national decision making and in international climate negotiations. In the recent communication on a renewed EU-Pacific development partnership, it is stated clearly that gender inequalities may hamper countries’ capacity to address climate change impacts.

This is particularly relevant in a region like the Pacific, where women are under-represented in public decision making and levels of gender-based violence remain high. Pacific leaders acknowledge the need to take women’s experience, knowledge and priorities into account more effectively if they are to address the impact of climate change successfully and be able to achieve sustainable development.

In line with the goal of raising women’s representation to the 40% level advocated in this report, women have chaired the last three conferences of the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and the Durban conference of the parties adopted decisions explicitly referring to the need to ensure gender balance in the adaptation committee and the standing committee on climate finance.

The EU needs to ensure gender balance among the members of these bodies as far as possible. The Danish Presidency decision to present the set of indicators on women and climate change to the Council illustrates the fact that this critical area is high on the agenda. This is an important step towards developing a comprehensive toolkit for evaluating the gender dimension of decision making and policies at all levels.

We will need funding and capacity-building to enhance women’s knowledge of climate change and how to adapt their daily lives. It is our responsibility to give the concerns of women and the most vulnerable a place in national and international climate policy. The report before us is a very useful contribution in advocating climate equity: I commend it and I applaud the rapporteur and the European Parliament for this initiative.

I would like to conclude on this positive note: I truly believe that climate action can contribute to development in the world’s poorest regions and improve the living conditions of many men and women in the developing world. The Commission will continue to mainstream gender issues into policy making, including the fight against climate change and adaptation to the adverse effects of climate change.


  Kartika Tamara Liotard, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety. (NL) Mr President, first of all, a big thank you to our rapporteur. Women make up 70% of the poorest population category in the world. As the rapporteur and the Commissioner have said, climate change hits women especially hard. They lose the most as a result of natural disasters and conflicts over natural resources, for example.

Ironically enough, women form the major part of the category of people who are least responsible for climate change and the proportion of women who have a say in new climate change strategies is actually far too low. However, they are the greatest hands-on experts and I therefore think they can make a real contribution to a better climate policy.

There is still far too little knowledge about gender equality and climate change, but what we can say is that greater equality is better for the environment and a better climate contributes to greater gender equality. Think of the many female water-carriers who are having to commit their time to carrying water back and forth, or wood, as the Commissioner said, and who cannot spend that time on study, for example, or finishing their education.

That needs to change and I would say: a clever girl is ready to deal with climate change!


  Mariya Nedelcheva, on behalf of the PPE Group. (FR) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I should first like to commend the excellent work carried out by the rapporteur, Ms Kiil-Nielsen, and the shadow rapporteurs on this report, which deals with the role women can play in combating climate change, and which shows the intrinsic link between gender equality and environmental protection.

Today, more than ever, we need to realise that things do not move forward if we exclude women – that is to say, more than 50% of the world’s population – from political, economic, commercial and environmental decisions. Women are active contributors to development and environmental protection, not only because they are often those most affected by the consequences of the policies in this area, but also because they are often those with the best knowledge of good practices. It is thus particularly important to recognise women’s capacity as effective agents of change in the context of environmental protection and management.

I also believe that environmental protection is achieved through giving women access to the relevant fields of education. The European Union has a responsibility to inform women and to open the doors of scientific research to them to enable them to acquire higher-level knowledge and skills.

Moreover, we need to promote the place of women in decision-making positions so as to ensure a wider variety of green solutions. This would contribute to better management of environmental problems while fostering gender equality.

In addition, we must emphasise the importance of gender equality and of empowering women in the context of sustainable development. The full participation of women in environmental protection and management can contribute to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and address the challenges of climate change.

It is a virtuous circle, where women become agents in environmental protection, and sustainable development gives women better access to material, economic and natural resources. It is a win-win relationship. The Commission and the Member States will strengthen the added-value of the tools of internal and external action and of development policies and strategies, if the links between the promotion of women’s rights, gender equality, economic growth, sustainable development and environmental protection are finally strengthened.


  Edite Estrela, on behalf of the S&D Group.(PT) Mr President, I wish to begin by congratulating the rapporteur. Ms Kiil-Nielsen has presented an interesting and well-structured report. Good cooperation with the shadow rapporteurs has allowed a broad consensus to be reached.

The effects of climate change are not neutral in terms of gender. Climate change does not affect men and women, rich and poor, developed countries and developing countries to the same extent. The effects of climate change are greater in poorer regions and can exacerbate social inequality. Women are the victims of much discrimination. They are particularly affected by poverty. Women make up 70% of poor people, and they are also more vulnerable to the effects of climate change and natural disasters. The eradication of inequality and the fight against climate change are related. There cannot be justice in terms of the climate unless there is real gender equality.

Natural disasters have a major medium- and long-term impact in terms of education, health, structural poverty and the displacement of peoples. Children and the elderly are groups that are particularly vulnerable to the effects of natural disasters. In areas where more disasters occur, the level of school attendance is lower, droughts and water shortages due to climate change force women to work more in order to ensure that there is water, food and energy, and young people frequently leave school in order to help their mothers with these tasks. Measures are therefore needed to integrate the gender dimension into strategies for preventing and managing the risks of natural disasters. Moreover, women are used to managing natural resources, which gives them a potential that should not be neglected in encouraging strategies for mitigating and adapting to climate change.


  Kent Johansson, on behalf of the ALDE Group.(SV) Mr President, I, too, would like to start by congratulating the rapporteur on her work on this report. It is an important report, and my speech will also demonstrate the consensus on these issues, both within Parliament and between the various European institutions.

In general, women have poorer access to resources and less political power and education, and their circumstances are poorer as a result. Moreover, women and children are affected to a greater degree by the negative effects of climate change. Three quarters of the world’s refugees are women and children. In order to improve the current situation, we require a combination of both small and large measures in which every effort is needed.

Without a holistic approach, we will overlook good ideas and important pieces of the puzzle. It has been shown that women have more sustainable consumption and are more inclined to act in a climate-friendly way than us men. Women may be a driving force and the key to the development of new and climate smart everyday innovations for increasing the efficiency of energy and water management. Together, we will make a difference through the responsible and sustainable use of resources in every household and every workplace.

The EU and Europe must lead the way when it comes to utilising the ideas, creativity and capacity for innovation of both women and men in order to deal with our climate challenges in the best way possible. The very combination of women and men is a powerful agent for change and broad participation and is one of the prerequisites for guaranteeing more justice and more comprehensive strategies. As several of my fellow Members have also said, it is therefore important, for example, to have more women represented in those political assemblies that are able to influence these circumstances, including in the climate negotiations.


  Marina Yannakoudakis, on behalf of the ECR Group. – Mr President, a deal was reached at the climate change conference thanks to two women. It was direct talks between the EU Climate Action Commissioner and India’s Environment Minister that paved the way for an agreement. The conference was chaired by an equally strong woman, South Africa’s Minister for International Relations and Cooperation, yet this report chooses to ignore the achievements of these women. It would reduce their success to a number, as it calls for 40% quotas for women on climate negotiation teams.

I have many times explained to this House that quotas patronise women. Nevertheless, the craze for quotas persists. We have seen demands for quotas in business and in politics, and now climate diplomacy is the target for quota enthusiasts. Quotas distort equality. They also degrade women who have made it to the top because they are the best people for the job. Climate change is a global challenge and we need global agreements to tackle it.


  Roger Helmer, on behalf of the EFD Group. – Mr President, this report represents an heroic attempt to link two of this Parliament’s main obsessions – women’s rights and climate change – but sadly, it fails to achieve that objective. Climate change gets blamed for many things, mostly without justification, but few people will believe that domestic violence against women is caused by climate change or that the low representation of women in government is caused by global warming.

Some will feel it is discriminatory that we do not have a report on men and climate change: after all, men and women live in the same climate, women and men switch on the same lights, televisions and computers, and both men and women inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide.

However, the report does make one valid point: that women are less able to respond and adapt in the face of changes such as global warming and its side effects. Mr President, the biggest side effect of global warming is the huge economic damage that our climate mitigation policies are doing. High energy prices and excessive regulation are driving jobs, industries and investment out of the EU altogether to other jurisdictions, typically with lower environmental standards. Sadly, it is probably the case that this will impact more seriously on women and on the poor than on the rest of us. The best thing we can do for women, for the poor of this world, and for all mankind, is to scrap our absurd and damaging climate policies.


  Mikael Gustafsson, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group.(SV) Mr President, I would like to start by thanking Ms Kiil-Nielsen for her exceptional work and for her cooperation on the report. This report is, in fact, an historic one in that, as far as I know, this is the first time that Parliament has examined climate issues from a gender perspective. The report makes it very clear that climate change is not gender neutral.

For example, men make a greater contribution to climate change than women, but it is women who are hardest hit. Men’s lifestyles quite simply leave a larger environmental footprint. Thus, women’s consumption is more sustainable, but women also seem to be more willing than men to take action to protect the environment.

It is important that the report highlights the concept of climate justice, as the current injustices will become even greater if we do not get to grips with climate change. It will affect poor countries in general and women in particular. The Millennium Development Goals are therefore at risk as a result of mankind’s destruction of the environment. It is also clear that the quota of men that currently permeates the whole of society is also present in connection with climate change.

I therefore support the report’s proposal concerning targeted measures such as the introduction of quotas in order to increase the representation of women at all levels in the decision-making processes. The EU and its Member States must set a good example and improve considerably in this area.

Women are important key players when it comes to combating climate change. Several good examples demonstrate that women’s education saves lives through disaster management, boosts biodiversity, prevents desertification and protects forests. In the same vein as the representative from the Commission, I would like to say that when women participate in climate work, their position in society is frequently enhanced, too. This, in turn, leads to increased democracy and promotion of human rights.


  Joanna Katarzyna Skrzydlewska (PPE).(PL) Mr President, discussion of women and climate change is a relatively new phenomenon, although, in view of the fact that it is women who are mainly responsible for making decisions in connection with consumption and household activities, and also of the fact that it is women who are generally the more active representatives of civil society, I think much greater attention should be given to this subject. Today, I would like to underscore how women could be still more involved in work and action to combat climate change.

Firstly, we should strive to increase the number of women who study technical subjects, for example. This will not only allow them to gain valuable knowledge and become experts, but it will mean they will be employed in sectors which are directly involved with climate change and will increase the share they have in making key decisions in this area.

Secondly, I strongly support the idea of creating targeted policies aimed at ensuring the development of entrepreneurship in a general sense in the context of equal access of women and men to jobs and the green economy.

Thirdly, I would like to point out that alongside long-term strategies, changes also need to be made as quickly as possible to give women easier access to loans and, in particular, to micro-credits. Through their determination and innovative approach, women who have access to micro-credits, insurance systems and services will play an extremely important role in developing the green economy and mitigating the effects of climate change.


  Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă (S&D).(RO) Mr President, the big challenge faced by mankind today, that of climate change, is closely related to equality. The risk of dying in cases of natural disasters or from their impact is 14 times higher for women than men. Statistics provide an initial explanation for this, showing that 70% of the world’s poorest are women, because they work pre-eminently in agriculture, 85% of the people who die as a result of climate-induced natural disasters are women, and 75% of environmental refugees are women. Women are also more likely to be the unseen victims of resource wars and violence resulting from climate change.

On the other hand, women are discriminated against in terms of access to resources and technologies and services of any kind, including medicine and drugs. For the most part, women do not own land, cannot get loans and, basically, have no decision-making power. These are some of the reasons for which women are less able to adapt to climate change.

I believe that, by addressing this topic, we are not launching a competition between gender equality and climate change policies, but rather we need to find the best suited solutions in order to advance simultaneously in these areas. I congratulate the rapporteur and support the proposal to create gender-disaggregated databases during project assessment and implementation phases. A better understanding of the gender dimension of climate change is essential in order to find the best solutions for policies aimed at combating this problem.


  Antonyia Parvanova (ALDE). – Mr President, I would like to congratulate Ms Kiil-Nielsen for the great work she has accomplished. I very much welcome this report calling for a greater role for women in tackling climate change. I believe the integration of gender issues in climate change policies would make such policies more effective, efficient and fair.

Statistics show that women are disproportionately affected by climate change, notably as victims of climate- and resource-related wars, natural disasters and in terms of infectious diseases, malnutrition and gender-based violence. We have to take into account this issue within Europe’s climate diplomacy and ensure that climate change and disaster-reduction measures are gender responsive. Gender mainstreaming would allow the mitigation of gender-related discrimination and use women’s potential to understand better the gender aspect of climate change in order to develop informed and responsive adaptation strategies. The collection of gender-disaggregated data should be promoted.

While recognising that gender is an important factor in combating climate change, the EU’s first priority should be achieving a legally binding international climate change commitment. For this reason, it is crucial for the EU primarily to address the climate change issue at global level and convince international partners to set aside differences in order to reach a sustainable, credible and long-lasting agreement. There is an urgent need for policy makers to reach such an agreement which will be gender sensitive and should include mitigation and adaptation strategies.


  Nick Griffin (NI). – Mr President, it would be easy to mock this report. Indeed, it is being laughed at by millions of British voters reading their papers this morning. Coming at a time when the euro disaster is breaking nations and driving desperate people to suicide, this staggering exercise in politically correct sloganising could – had it been on the agenda at the start of this month – easily have been mistaken for an April Fool’s joke. But in truth, this attempt to institutionalise discrimination and contempt against half the population of Europe is not a laughing matter. Men and women are conceived to complement each other for the common good. This proposal is an attempt to sow discord between the sexes, break family values and export EU Frankfurt School poison worldwide, using the excuse of climate change.

Such incitement to gender-based contempt, division and hate is not a victimless crime. Hundreds of thousands of men are denied access to their children after bitter divorces. Thousands of children are snatched by the state because the crucial importance of fathers and loving, united families is denied and undermined by militant feminism of the sort that underlies this report. Meanwhile, there are real problems out there hurting real people. Voters expect us at least to try to solve them, not to waste our time and their money on sexist anti-male, anti-family gibberish. Ladies and gentlemen, please, let us drop this empty, bigoted sloganising and work together to deal with real problems.


  Michèle Striffler (PPE). (FR) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, climate change must, of course, be addressed as a whole, not only at the level of the European Union, but also globally. The fact remains that women, especially those who live in developing countries, are the main victims. The constant discrimination suffered by women in terms of income, access to resources, and participation in political decision making are some of the factors that explain the extreme vulnerability of women when natural disasters occur in developing countries.

Our policy to combat climate change must not ignore gender issues, just as our development aid policy must not fail to give greater consideration to the role of women in developing countries.

Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the European Union must make every effort to promote the role of women in developing countries, in major international bodies and, in particular, at UN conferences on climate change.

I sometimes get the impression that I am hallucinating, especially after what I have just heard. Mr President, it is high time that gender equality took centre stage in the drawing up and implementation of development, human rights and anti-global warming policies.


  Marita Ulvskog (S&D).(SV) Mr President, this report shows how women and men are responsible to different degrees for the changes to the climate that are happening, that we have different levels of access to our common resources, and that we are affected differently by climate change. This knowledge is essential if we are to be able to change our behaviour and attitudes and change the world. This is what most of us in the European Parliament want, even if perhaps not all of us are thinking along the same lines. These values and this knowledge need to be present both within the EU and in other parts of the world. We enter into trade and environment agreements and the gender equality aspect needs to be included in these.

I would like to thank Ms Kiil-Nielsen for this report on climate policy. It takes a slightly different approach from the usual one. This is good, as most of us are aware that political solutions are more effective if we have knowledge and awareness of both the class and the gender aspects. This applies to climate policy too.

If the climate policy that we decide on here, usually with broad majority support, is to become reality and not merely empty words on paper, we need reports that will guide us in the way that this report is able to. Thank you once again for this work.


  Andrea Zanoni (ALDE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the fight against climate change is necessary for the survival of the planet. It is absolutely critical that Europe and all stakeholders strive to limit the increase in average temperatures to 2 °C. This is the only way that we can lower the risk of natural disasters, and consequent migration and population displacement.

It is acknowledged at international level that it is certainly the poor who suffer the most. Well, 70% of the world’s poorest are women. In the developing world, it is women who play a crucial role in the abstraction and practical management of water, not just in the home but also in farming, and it is women who today have to work more owing to droughts and water shortages resulting precisely from climate change.

This is why gender perspectives must be mainstreamed into all stages of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiation process, in order to effectively improve the welfare of women around the world.


  Christa Klaß (PPE).(DE) Mr President, Mr Potočnik, ladies and gentlemen, our climate is changing. Women are affected by this and they can also do something to prevent it. This discussion will only become ridiculous if people make speeches like the one just made by Mr Griffin. This is an important report. We know that scientists and experts are searching for causes and solutions and, of course, their opinions often differ. Despite all the different interpretations, we can be sure of one thing. If we continue using raw materials all over the world as we are currently doing, then this planet’s resources will soon be exhausted. Energy saving is essential, whichever way you look at it. Climate change affects not only our environment. Shortages of food and water are causing increased economic concerns and the result of this will be social problems.

The Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality is calling in its report on women and climate change for the greater involvement of women in this area. Women make up half of the population. Around 70% of the poorest people in the world and 80% of refugees and exiles are women. It is important for women to become more involved in combating climate change and this can be achieved by means of education and training. Women play an important role in managing resources in the home. They are involved at a very basic level and they decide how the house is heated or cooled and what energy sources are used. Given that half of the energy used in houses is wasted through inefficiency, there is huge potential here for reducing CO2 emissions. Women also lay the foundations for the sensible consumption of resources within the family and when educating their children. We must make use of their experience in leading roles. If we want to make the world a better place, we can only do this with the help of women.

This report highlights important connections and courses of action. However, it should concentrate on the important subject of women and climate change and not dilute its own message by including other fundamental topics, such as quotas and reproduction issues.


  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D).(LT) Mr President, I would like to thank the rapporteur for her work. There is still a lack of understanding of the link between the gender aspect and climate change, which is probably why Mr Griffin does not really understand this problem and said this today. A lot of work still needs to be done in this area because the gender aspect has not yet been integrated into climate policies. The whole of humanity is affected by climate change, but repeated natural disasters have demonstrated that women and children are worst affected by these and have the highest rate of mortality. Impoverished women in developing countries are those worst hit by climate change: they do hard physical work running the household and working in agriculture, which is a real drain on their health. Unfortunately, women often have no access to health services and now, as well as in the future, women will therefore need even more physical and spiritual strength to deal with climate change. Currently, there is still a lack of data and statistics produced according to gender. This, unfortunately, also hinders a better understanding and evaluation of the gender aspect in the area of climate change. The impact of climate change will only increase in future and combating climate change must therefore be a priority for the European Union.


  Barbara Matera (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, awareness of the links between gender policies and climate change has only recently developed, and gender issues have yet to be fully integrated into climate change policies.

Presently, the international situation is by no means propitious, and there is a high risk that no international climate change agreement will be reached. The spotlight is now on the meeting that will be held in Rio de Janeiro in June. I think that the inclusion of gender issues provides an opportunity to make the fight against climate change stronger, fairer and more effective. This mainstreaming must be based on two principles: addressing the effects of inequality and tackling its causes.

An improved understanding of the links between climate change and women by means of a system for the collection of gender-disaggregated data would help identify the areas where we need to take action, in order to save energy and water resources which women use in a different way to men to satisfy the needs of their families. Awareness of the unequal situation of men and women involves two aspects: assistance and empowerment, which must be jointly included in EU policies.

I hope that the link between gender and climate can be effectively included in EU programmes and not just in individual policies. Climate change concerns all areas of human activity and must therefore be incorporated horizontally across the EU’s projects and financial activities.


  Antigoni Papadopoulou (S&D).(EL) Mr President, climate change is causing environmental and humanitarian crises. It has a drastic impact on poor countries and people. I refer here, in particular, to women, because they account for 85% of the victims of natural disasters caused by climate conditions and 75% of environmental refugees.

The report contains numerous positive suggestions, which I endorse, such as the proposal to ensure social justice and a ‘climate-friendly’ indicator. However, the need to incorporate the gender dimension in all climate and sustainable development policies needs to be emphasised. In order to do so, we need specialised research and expert opinions on gender issues, so that we can plan rational natural disaster risk prevention and management strategies, manage environmental immigration correctly and obtain adequate financing from funds and climate-related resources. In my opinion, the European Union should incorporate the gender dimension into targeted climate-related policies, so that solutions can be found.


  Anna Záborská (PPE). (SK) Mr President, I thank the rapporteur for her work, but I am embarrassed when I read paragraph 30 of the present report.

I quote: ‘The European Parliament recognises that population growth has an impact on the climate and highlights the need to respond adequately where the contraceptive needs of women and men in any society remain unmet’. I have two questions. Does the rapporteur wish to say that we should stop having children in the name of saving the climate? Should we hand out condoms and pills and provide reproductive health services because of climate change and exhaled CO2? If ideology leads us here, to a point that is beyond absurdity, rational debate loses its meaning because we are at a loss for words. This report on the negative impacts of climate change on women suggests that the solution is to rid women of femininity by deterring them from motherhood. None of the Millennium Development Goals mentions a reduction in the population growth in developing countries. It would be an obvious contradiction. Human life, even though it may be thousands of kilometres distant from us, still has such value that the United Nations convenes due to lack of drinking water and in order to rescue people from death. Experts come together and billions are outlaid in order to keep them alive, but this paradox exists. It is based on the assumption that one of the main sources of poverty – and, according to this report, also climate change – is population growth.

These claims, however, are seriously flawed. In January 2011, the International Monetary Fund published a table that predicted the ten fastest growing economies in the world, and amongst them were seven African countries with the highest birth rates. It is a pity that in a single point, this report could throw into doubt the meaning behind all the positive proposals it contains.


  Erminia Mazzoni (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, with Ms Kiil-Nielsen’s report, I think that the European Parliament is once again showing just how determined it is to support the creation of a fairer, more participative and more democratic society; I would not call it an obsession, as Mr Helmer did, but a just and commendable determination to create a European Union better equipped to meet the challenges of the third millennium.

Ms Kiil-Nielsen’s report focuses on mainstreaming gender into climate change policy, but I confess that, despite the rapporteur’s laudable efforts, I have not fully grasped these direct links. However, I, of course, fully support the objectives of this report, the wider objectives of this report, which are to try to create a society where differences are no longer accepted.

We can no longer accept a society where women own less than 1% of the world’s resources, comprise 70% of those living on less than one dollar a day, make up just 17% of the world’s parliamentarians and earn 10% of the world’s income for working two thirds of the hours worked worldwide. All of these issues must be overcome.

I think that Ms Kiil-Nielsen’s report is an effective exposé of this state of affairs and is an important instrument which, perhaps, we can use to implement that comprehensive toolkit referred to by Commissioner Potočnik, in order to mainstream gender into all policies. While it is true that climate change certainly has a greater impact on the more vulnerable, marginalised categories, which women fall into in certain cases, it is also true that we should look again, in a cross-cutting way, at the issue of women in all EU policies and all national policies.


Catch-the-eye procedure


  Romana Jordan (PPE). (SL) Mr President, I asked to speak because I would like to say personally that I agree that the relationship between women and climate change is a specific one. However, I also agree with Ms Klass, who said we should not get lost in the details, but must identify the important priorities, the important issues.

For me, education is particularly important. There is a saying – when you educate a man, you educate an individual, when you educate a woman, you educate a whole family. Education is therefore very significant. Then comes awareness, because women can influence patterns of behaviour. The third thing I think is very important is that women are more commonly, much more commonly, the victims of natural disasters and we should give this greater consideration when we discuss EU development aid.

Finally, allow me to mention one more very significant problem, which is the representation of women in decision-making bodies. Personally, I also support all efforts and proposals that would increase women's participation in decision-making bodies in general.


  Anneli Jäätteenmäki (ALDE). (FI) Mr President, I would like to start by thanking the rapporteur for an excellent report, but, if you would allow me to, I want to say a few critical words about attitudes to climate change more generally. When the subject of the discussion is climate change, we all too often speak about numbers and markets. In my opinion, it is people who should be made the focal point of climate change: those who encounter it in their everyday lives. For example, for a woman in a developing country who is in the most difficult of circumstances, climate change is not just about the failure of markets, but how it is affecting everyday life. This is generally ignored. Climate change is about people, and numbers and markets are only a secondary consideration.


  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE).(ES) Mr President, let us speak frankly. It is no coincidence that the majority of the victims of climate-related disasters are women. It has to do with vulnerability. Moreover, it is precisely that vulnerability that reflects a structural problem, structural patriarchy, a problem on which this Parliament has heard some very clear and very worrying exponents.

The proposals made by the Kiil-Nielsen report simply represent common sense in today’s world, they constitute basic needs, and they present a fundamental challenge, as follows: 1) increasing the training and empowerment of women in decision making, in all areas; 2) turning victims into actors. This is what the report is asking for, that we move to a position where we invest more in training, in protection and in preparation; 3) incorporating gender issues in policies to combat climate change in a very clear way. Common sense, pure and simple.

The reactions that we have heard from some MEPs simply take us back two or three centuries into the past.


  Ana Miranda (Verts/ALE).(PT) Mr President, I would like to congratulate my colleague, Ms Kiil-Nielsen, on this excellent report. As the rapporteur has said, women are much more affected by climate change. The climate is also changing due to non-compliance with environmental instruments. The climate is also changing due to the lack of political support. The climate is also changing due to the lack of responsibility all over the world and in Europe. I will give you a very specific everyday example from my country: the case of women in the fisheries sector. These are women who catch seafood. Climate change is worsening because the governments are not cleaning the coasts. These women do not receive pensions. They cannot work because the coast is not clean. I therefore support this report, as it advocates that these environmental commitments, which so greatly affect women, are met.


End of the catch-the-eye procedure


  Janez Potočnik, Member of the Commission. – Mr President, first of all, I would like to say that when it comes to women and climate, we are talking about a real and serious programme. That is why I very much appreciate the attention focused on it by the rapporteur and by all of you who contributed. I am sure that my colleague, Connie Hedegaard, also appreciates that very much.

A lot of convincing points have been aired in this debate. The things which have really stayed in my mind are key words such as awareness, data, knowledge, education, mainstreaming and science. On community support for women and women’s education, I could add that by 2015, all development-financing proposals will include gender-specific indicators, and climate-related projects under Horizon 2020 – our new framework programme – will include gender-specific analysis.

Some of you might know that in my previous term of office, I was responsible for science and research, and the question of women in science was one of the very serious questions that we tried to address. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix. Nowadays, certain developments are very encouraging: there are some facts on the number of female doctorate students, which is increasing more rapidly than the corresponding figure for men, and on the number of women researchers, which is growing at a rate nearly twice that of their male counterparts. So the situation is getting better, although it should continue in future to be a focus of attention.

The problem is largely connected to the move from studying into the world of work. The reality is that women scientists earn less than their male counterparts; more of them are employed on short-term contracts; they climb the ladder of success more slowly, and so on. These are all real issues which we should address at the very core of the problem, and a holistic approach – involving social policy – should be used to the utmost extent. I myself have experienced the power of women in international negotiations, and I can say from my own experience that this is a fact.

Finally, I would like to say something on what we discussed yesterday. Yesterday, I was in Denmark, in Horsens, where we had an informal Council devoted to two themes. One of them was the 7th Environment Action Programme, which we will discuss later on and which concerns the next episode of our environmental policy for the mid to long term. We also discussed the Rio+20 Earth Summit, which involves similar themes but obviously in a more international environment. I can report that gender balance and the role of women were issues underlined in our discussions.

It is important that we see these issues not only in the context of climate change, but also in the context of green growth or, more broadly speaking, in the context of sustainable development. As some of you rightly pointed out, inclusion and equity are absolute requirements for sustainable development. Just as development cannot be solely about economic growth, sustainability cannot be solely about protecting the environment. Development must be people-centred, promoting rights, opportunities, choices and dignity, and green growth must also be inclusive growth, generating social progress and contributing to eradicating poverty and achieving greater equality, as well as sustaining our natural environment.

By the way, the title of the conference in Rio which we will be attending in June is exactly that: ‘Green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication’. All the issues which are highlighted in this report are also very relevant to those themes.


  Nicole Kiil-Nielsen, rapporteur. (FR) Mr President, I knew, after meeting Commissioner Hedegaard at a hearing organised by the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, that we could count on her and on the Commission. I also know that we can count on the Danish Presidency having, in fact, heard a number of proposals.

I would like to thank all my colleagues, men and women, who have spoken here today, because what they have said has simply reflected the work we have done collectively, which is very enriching for us all. I think this debate was necessary, and that we must, of course, continue to raise awareness. Each one of us here has contributed to this report and I am very satisfied.

I know that we can also rely on the Institute for Gender Equality, which we created in Vilnius in 2011.

I should nonetheless like to say something. I would like to pay tribute to all the women and women’s associations worldwide who have long understood that something had to be done about preserving resources and about climate issues. In some countries, women have known this for a long time.

In this regard, I will mention India, where, within the Chipko movement, women attached themselves to trees to save them; Rwanda too, where women have preserved 600 kinds of beans. I would also like to pay homage to Wangari Maathai, whom no one here will have forgotten, who left us recently and who, with her Green Belt movement, preserved millions of trees.

Women in developing countries recognised the need to take action a long time ago and we know we can count on them.

A final point, which has been raised several times, is the issue of quotas. My political group and I, personally, are very much in favour of this tool. It is only a tool, per se, but it has enabled us to become the only political group with equal representation in this Parliament. I believe it is the only way, unfortunately, to move things forward. If we do not use this tool of allocating quotas, we will not succeed in advancing gender equality. It is simply a tool.

Finally, if you will permit me, I shall quote Einstein, who said, ‘Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them’.




  President. – The debate is closed.

The vote will take place today at 12.00.

Written statements (Rule 149)


  Emer Costello (S&D), in writing. – I welcome this resolution which is timely given that 2012 is designated UN Year of Sustainable Energy for All. In seeking Climate Justice, it is important to highlight the links between access to clean, affordable, sustainable energy and gender. In the developing world, in particular, energy is vital for women’s development in terms of reducing their time burden for collecting firewood used in cooking and heating and improving their health and well-being. Access to, and control over, clean energy sources is central to unleashing the potential of rural women. The provision of clean cook stoves can mitigate the negative environmental and health impacts while promoting women’s empowerment, as the time that would have been used to collect fuel can be used for other productive and economic activities. I would urge the Commission to take concrete measures to ensure: (1) that more women take up careers in science and technology; (2) that women are properly represented at high-level climate change talks and decision-making bodies by requiring at least 40% female representation; and (3) that data collection and analysis reflect the gender specific issues in dealing with climate change.


  Justas Vincas Paleckis (S&D), in writing. – I supported the report on the impact of climate change on women because it raises a very specific aspect of environmental policies. Climate change is not only about nature and natural resources. Human rights and human well-being are challenged by climate change as well. And our efforts in this domain could improve life conditions for millions of people on the Earth. The report clearly shows how the environmental policies can promote equality between women and men if they are adjusted to meet the specific needs of women. The issue is particularly important, since women play a much more significant role in climate change-related activities than men. We have to provide women equal opportunities, promote their rights to work, to an equal salary, to necessary health conditions. We also have to improve communication in order to learn their demands and to encourage them to use existing opportunities. Therefore, I support the rapporteur’s call to the European institutions and national governments to make more efforts to make their environmental policies more gender sensitive.

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