Page last updated at 09:20 GMT, Friday, 20 April 2012 10:20 UK

MEPs debate role of women in tackling climate change

MEPs have considered a report looking at the role women can play in tackling climate change.

The report argues that climate change exacerbates gender discrimination, because women, who make up 50% of the population, are "more affected" by climate change and natural disasters than men; particularly in poorer countries.

The report was drafted by French Green MEP Nicole Kiil-Nielsen and adopted by the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality, and was discussed on 20 April 2012.

It calls on the Commission and Council to integrate gender equality and gender justice objectives in every step of climate policy decision-making; to make the fight against climate change fairer and more effective.

Representatives for the Alliance of Socialists and Democrats and the parliament's liberal and centre-right groups endorsed the report, supporting measures to reduce gender inequality in climate change.

Swedish socialist MEP Mikael Gustafsson said it was "historic" as it was the first time the European Parliament looked at climate change questions from a gender perspective.

Dutch far-left MEP Kartika Liotard, from the environment committee, believed gender equality would be better for the climate.

She said it was ironic women were worst affected by climate change when they have the "least effect" on the climate.

However, British Conservative MEP Marina Yannakoudakis criticised proposals for female quotas in climate change negotiation teams.

Europe's "craze for quotas" only undermined women, she said, and degraded those who have made it to the top by themselves.

Nicole Kiil-Nielsen, in charge of stewarding the report through Parliament, countered that quotas were just a tool, but without them "we will not manage to achieve better gender equality".

UKIP MEP Roger Helmer, who recently defected from the Conservative party, said the report was an attempt to link Europe's two "obsessions": women's rights and climate change.

Mr Helmer said the biggest effect of global warming was the "huge economic damage our climate mitigation policies are doing", as high energy prices and and excessive regulation were driving jobs and investment out of the EU.

"The best thing for women, for the poorest, for all mankind is to scrap our absurd and damaging climate policies," he argued.

And BNP MEP Nick Griffin dismissed the report as a "staggering exercise in political correctness" and an attempt to "institutionalise discrimination" using the excuse of climate change.

Voters expected politicians to sort out the economic crisis, not waste time on "anti-male gibberish", he argued.

Europe's Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik welcomed the report, which he said was an opportunity to discuss how the EU to help women put their stamp on future climate policy.

He told MEPs the Commission would continue to mainstream gender issues into the policy making, including the fight against climate change.

MEPs adopted the resolution on women and climate change on 20 April 2012.

Useful links:

Democracy Live's guide to how the plenary sessions work.

A disclaimer on the use of simultaneous interpretations, on the European Parliament's website.

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