MEPs reject key text on carbon market reform, a blow to EU climate plan

Members of the European Parliament vote during a plenary session, June 8, 2022, in Strasbourg. FREDERICK FLORIN / AFP It was not considered ambitious enough by the Greens and the left: a key text on the reform of the European carbon market was rejected on Wednesday June 8 by MEPs in plenary session. This text, which provides for the expansion of the market for trading CO2 emission quotas, but also the abolition of free quotas for European manufacturers and the introduction of a carbon tax at the borders of the European Union (EU ), was rejected to everyone’s surprise by 340 votes (265 were in favour, 34 abstained), with Green and left MEPs castigating the proposals of the European People’s Party (EPP, pro-European right) and Renew (centrist and liberals) on the timetable and the objectives. This rejection will lead to a renegotiation of this pillar of the EU climate plan in parliamentary committee. The European Parliament was due to vote on Wednesday on eight of the fourteen texts of the roadmap proposed in July 2021 by the European Commission to reduce the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030, compared to to 1990. Read also Article reserved for our subscribers Transport, heating, imports… Brussels presents twelve climate bills Revision in parliamentary committee “Thunderbolt! The majority must review its copy (…) because of rules that are not ambitious enough. The climate does not wait,” commented MEP Karima Delli (Greens). “What an awful day. It’s a shame to see the far right vote with the Socialists and the Greens,” retorted Peter Liese (EPP), rapporteur for the rejected text, in a very electric atmosphere in the hemicycle of the European Parliament, in Strasbourg. . The German MEP called for the text to be revised in the parliamentary committee to propose a revised version for a subsequent vote, which a large majority of MEPs approved. The legislative proposal submitted to MEPs regarding the carbon market reflected a compromise reached between the EPP, the main force in Parliament, and Renew. In particular, it provided for a 63% reduction by 2030, compared to 2005, in emissions from sectors subject to the European carbon market: better than the objective proposed by the Commission (− 61%), but down sharply from report to the vote of the Committee on the Environment (− 67%). The postponement to 2034 of the end of free quotas for industrialists, a “red line” Above all, the compromise proposed to MEPs also adjusted the timetable for eliminating the free emission quotas granted to European industrialists, as imports will be taxed in the EU of polluting sectors on the basis of the European CO2 price. An amendment to the text, pushed by the EPP and adopted on Wednesday, demanded that these free quotas be maintained in the EU until 2034, in the name of business competitiveness. This therefore also postponed until 2034 the full implementation of the carbon tax at the borders, a device intended to protect the efforts of European industry to invest in clean technologies and to discourage those who would like to relocate to escape the constraints of the “Green Deal”. After the vote in the parliamentary committee to abolish free quotas from 2030, this postponement to 2034 was a “red line” for the Greens and S&D (Socialists and Democrats), who therefore voted against the final text, in unison of the extreme right. “The left torpedoed it irresponsibly,” slammed François-Xavier Bellamy (EPP). Read the column: Article reserved for our subscribers “The mechanism of the carbon tax at the borders of Europe looks like an economic bomb” On the left, we were rather indignant at the fact that the amendment on the timetable for the end of free quotas was voted for by both the EPP and the extreme right. “You can’t seek support from the far right to lower climate ambition, and then complain that we’re opposed,” said Socialist leader Iratxe Garcia Perez. Vote on thermal engines at the end of the afternoon MEPs, on the whole, approve of the extension to the maritime sector, to aviation, to heavy goods vehicles and to office buildings, of the European carbon market, which today Today only covers energy and industry (only 40% of EU emissions). On the other hand, to stay in the nails of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the EU will have to eliminate the free quotas offered in the sectors concerned by its future border tax. However, the date for removing them without destabilizing companies is hotly debated, with positions ranging from 2030 to 2035. The votes scheduled for Wednesday on the “carbon border adjustment” and a social fund to help the most vulnerable households were also canceled for the sake of consistency, and the texts sent back to committee. “We are going to start these renegotiations now, to return to the plenary as soon as possible with a stable compromise”, explained Pascal Canfin (Renew), chairman of the Environment Committee. Read also Article reserved for our subscribers In the automotive industry, the long march towards the end of the combustion engine has begun The left says it is ready for talks. “If you want solid pro-European pro-climate majorities, it is built, it cannot be improvised”, nevertheless warned Philippe Lamberts (Greens). Other texts of the climate plan, including a controversial law setting the end of sales of thermal engine cars at 2035, will be put to the vote this Wednesday at the end of the afternoon. The World with AFP

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