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EU Carbon reform: some progress and much resistance from national governments

News item

Wednesday 7 Feb 2018

Nessa Childers, MEP for Dublin, gave a guarded welcome to the approval of the deal reached between the European Parliament and the EU’s national governments to reform the Union’s carbon emissions trading scheme.

The EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) is the first and largest international market scheme to cap and trade greenhouse gas emissions.

 It covers close to half of all emissions in the region, including power plants and heavy industry.

 Speaking from Strasbourg after the final vote in Parliament, on Tuesday, Ms. Childers, a member of the Committee on the Environment, said:

“We are used to seeing this policy described as the EU’s flagship on the fight against climate change, but the fact is that, since the inception of the scheme, it has been plagued by an overabundance of allowances.

 “Big corporate polluters were granted free allowances to offset competition from those who face no emission penalties abroad. It turns out they not only had plenty to use for production, but ended up selling these free allocations in the market and pocketed the profits.

 “The pricing signal has been too low to incentivise decarbonisation, which calls into question the very purpose of this complex and expensive enterprise.

“I have been part of previous efforts to removing allowances from the market, and welcome the higher rate at which the available quantity will be progressively reduced, even if it is lower than what we need. It will need to be corrected at the earliest available opportunity.

“The necessary shift from carbon-intensive activities in our economies will affect a number of sectors, so this reform rightly includes funding mechanisms to support innovation, transition to sustainable energy production and retraining for workers.”

 “Too many member state governments and conservative forces keep dragging their feet on this and other policy fronts we need to avert catastrophic climate change.

“Unfortunately, reckoning with the price of environmental disasters is something our governments have yet to properly do. Let us hope the same does not keep happening to the price signal of our carbon allowances.”

ENDS