The European Parliament was thrown into chaos today after its flagship proposal to make the trading bloc’s carbon market more environmentally stringent collapsed amid divisions between lawmakers.
The motion was meant to confirm parliament’s position for negotiations on a potential new law to reform the Emissions Trading System (ETS), which is the European Union’s (EU) main policy tool for cutting emissions – requiring power plants and industry to buy CO2 permits when they pollute.
Plans featured in the proposal and associated amendments included raising the emissions cut from 6 to 67 per cent of carbon emissions by 2030, adding shipping to the carbon market, and imposing CO2 costs on polluting fuels used in buildings and transport from 2025,
Approval would have put the EU on track to cut net carbon emissions by 55 per cent by the end of thedecade from 1990 levels, in line with targets unveiled by the European Commission earlier this year.
However, the plans have now been thrown back to a parliamentary committee, which will have to redraw proposals to reform the market.
The rejection could set back the timeframe for finalising the law – which the EU is racing to do this year, so it can apply in 2023.
Green and socialist members of parliament rejected the proposals – arguing that conservative groups amendments had weakened the planned reforms.
Meanwhile, right-wing groups considered the plans too ambitious, especially in the light of inflationary pressures.
There were breakthroughs in other votes taking place today, with plans to ramp up emission cutting within aviation being approved by lawmakers.
Suncana Glavak, rapporteur for the EU Parliament’s environmental committee, took to Twitter to express her joy after her proposals on the reduction of aviation fuel emissions were approved.
“I am pleased that we can start inter-institutional negotiations, thanks to colleagues for their cooperation,” she tweeted earlier today.
Under the current legislation, only intra European flights are part of the EU carbon market but today’s vote has changed it to include all departing flights, especially hitting long-haul ones.
Legacy carriers have benefitted because the majority of their flights is not part of the EU’s emission trading scheme, as it does not apply to non-EEA destinations.
According to data major airlines such as Lufthansa, British Airways and Air France don’t pay for 77, 86, 83 per cent of their emissions respectively.
The strategy was criticised by short-haul carriers, who believed big polluters got away with not paying for their emissions, and environmental groups. Earlier this year Ryanair, Wizz Air and Easyjet signed a statement calling to revise the policy.
Commenting on the vote, Jo Dardenne, acting director for aviation at Transport & Environment said: “It’s finally time for the EU to take back responsibility for tackling the biggest chunk of aviation’s emissions.
“Over 60 per cent of Europe’s aviation emissions will no longer be ignored, marking a major step forward in tackling polluting long haul flights.
“It’s now up to national governments to make this a reality.”
Fossil fuel cars
Lawmakers said yes to effectively banning the production of new fossil-fuel cars from 2035.
Initially drafted by the European Commission last year, the proposal is set to impose a 100 per cent reduction of CO2 emissions from new cars.