On 15th February, the European Parliament will vote on an extremely important piece of legislation: the European Emission Trading Scheme (or EU ETS for short). This is the EU’s landmark policy in the fight against climate change. But, for now at least, it isn’t doing its job.
What is EU ETS? And why isn’t it working?
The EU ETS is a carbon market which covers half of Europe’s carbon dioxide emissions (CO2). It puts a limit on the overall pollution produced by companies and creates a market and price for carbon permits. These permits or ‘allowances’ are the common trading ‘currency’ at the heart of the system. The less a company pollutes, the fewer permits it needs to buy. It can also sell any it doesn’t need. This should encourage companies to invest in greening their operations so they don’t have to cover the costs of their pollution. But the system isn’t working. Because there are too many permits on the market, the CO2 price is far too low and the very objective of the EU ETS is defeated... A reform is urgently needed.
In December last year, the European Parliament’s environment committee managed to strike a deal, which although not perfect, was a step in the right direction. Members agreed to improve the legislation by increasing the number of permits that will be taken out of the market each year and by getting rid of the free permits given to the cement and clinker sector. They also included special measures to protect this sector from unfair cross border competition through an ‘import inclusion scheme’. The aviation sector will also have to cover its fair share by paying for 50% of its permits at auction. In addition, emissions from the maritime sector will also be included in the scheme if no global deal is made by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) by 2023.
Since the signing of the Paris Agreement in December 2015, we have witnessed a wave of excitement, congratulation and joy throughout almost all political parties. We have listened to countless claims about how ‘historic’ and ‘outstanding’ this agreement is. But now it’s time to walk the talk. We need to ensure that we are on track with the decarbonising of our economy. The reform of the EU carbon Market is the first major opportunity to build upon and start implementing the Paris Agreement.
The Greens are now calling all members to vote in favour of the deal found in the environment committee at the plenary vote on 15th February, as it is for them the absolute minimum to stay in line with what was agreed in Paris at the COP21.
*** Take action!
Make your voice heard! Help us to make sure Europe raises its ambition so that our health, environment and the planet are protected!
- Listen to our podcast made on the EU ETS
- Share this video with the members of the European Parliament on twitter (find all the twitter accounts here) until 15th February at noon to ask them to keep the spirit of Paris alive!
- Support the NGOs ‘ petition