Europe’s Gas-Emitting Politicians

Imagine if the entire U.S. Congress moved from Washington to Cleveland for one week every month. Taxpayers would be justly outraged at the waste and foolishness, yet that is exactly what happens in Europe. The European Parliament leaves Brussels every month and spends a week in Strasbourg. The Parliamentarians so far have been impervious to arguments that they are wasting money, but they may be cowed by a new argument that they are contributing to global warming. The EU Observer reports on a new study showing that the monthly jaunt to Strasbourg increases greenhouse gas emissions:

The double seat arrangement of the European Parliament generates at least 20,000 extra tonnes of CO2 emissions – equalling 13,000 return flights from London to New York - according to a new study. The report … looks into the environmental costs of having two seats for the EU’s assembly - in Brussels and Strasbourg. … When a plenary session is held in Strasbourg once a month – it is empty for the remaining 307 days of the year - 1,220 officials and other servants of the parliament and political groups travel from Brussels to Strasbourg while another 525 travel from Luxembourg to Strasbourg. But it is not just people who have to get to the Alsatian capital but also all of their work paraphernalia. This means “fifteen lorries which ferry cupboards and tin trunks full of documents each month from Brussels or Luxembourg to Strasbourg and back again,” according to the report. As a whole, the costs of the “travelling circus” - as it is known by critics of the arrangement - amounts to around €200,000 per year, with the total cost of travelling plus the allowances people get for going to Strasbourg amounting to €18 million.