On December 15, the European Parliament’s Environment Committee gave a boost to plans to increase greenhouse-gas emission curbs through the EU carbon market (EU ETS).

MEPs propose reducing the carbon credits to be auctioned by 2.4% each year, and doubling the capacity of the market stability reserve (MSR) to absorb the excess of allowances on the market.

“After the Commission proposal, and 650 amendments tabled, today the Environment Committee has delivered a strong signal to the Council,” said Italian MEP Giovanni La Via, who is the chair of the environment committee. “I think that this was an ambitious yet balanced vote. We really need to implement the Paris agreement and meet our climate targets, without endangering the competitiveness of our industries”, he added.

“Today the Environment Committee delivered a welcome Christmas gift to all who care about climate change”, said rapporteur Ian Duncan from the UK. “We have endorsed an agreement that honours our Paris commitments, while also protecting our vital industries. The journey has not always been easy but the commitment of my fellow MEPs who negotiated the dossier has been unstinting and I owe them all a debt of thanks”, Duncan continued.

“Our next step in February to secure endorsement by the entire Parliament will be a challenge but after today’s vote I have greater confidence in the outcome. Time now for the Council to step up to the plate and get ready to bat for climate change” he added.

In their amendments, MEPs advocate increasing the so-called “linear reduction factor” – the yearly reduction of credits, in order to deliver on the carbon curbs – by 2.4%, as against the 2.2% proposed by the European Commission.

MEPs also want to reinforce the MSR’s capacity to mop up the excess of credits on the market. When triggered from 2019, it would absorb up to 24% of the excess of credits in each auctioning year, for the first four years – double its current capacity. MEPs also agreed that 800 million allowances should be removed from the MSR as of January 1, 2021.

MEPs say that, in the absence of a comparable system operating under the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), CO2 emissions in EU ports and during voyages to and from them should be accounted for. They propose setting up a fund to compensate for maritime emissions, improve energy efficiency, facilitate investments in innovative technologies and reduce CO2 emissions from the sector. Revenues from auctioning of allowances in the aviation sector would be used for climate action in the EU and third countries.

The legislation will be put to a vote by the full House in February. Parliament, Council and the Commission will then start the so-called “trilogue” three-way negotiations.

WWF welcomed steps towards tackling the oversupply of emission allowances, which would lead to a total surplus of more than 2 billion allowances by 2020.

“Meaningful reforms to fix the EU ETS have been long overdue, and we are finally on the right track,” said Sam Van den plas, climate policy officer at WWF European Policy Office.

Imke Lübbeke , Head of Climate and Energy at WWF European Policy Office, said that using the ETS auctioning revenues to deliver more clean investments in Europe is the right way forward. “However, there is still a lot of room for improvement ahead of the EP plenary vote and in the negotiations with Member States, especially concerning the EU’s international climate finance commitments. Policymakers need to re-focus on the big picture now, and shift the debate away from the vested interests of a handful of large polluting sectors to using the ETS to deliver on the Paris climate commitments,” Lübbeke added.

CAN Europe also welcomed the steps the Parliament took to scale up emission cuts, beyond what the European Commission has proposed, but stressed that these are still far too little to repair the broken scheme or align the EU’s planned emission reductions with the global temperature goals it committed to under the Paris Agreement.

“The lawmakers have clearly recognized that the Paris Agreement requires scaling up emission cuts. It is a pity that they have shied away from going further in increasing the level of ambition and making the ETS truly fit for purpose,” Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe Director Wendel Trio said.


December 16, 2016

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