Press Release

Governments must follow MEPs’ lead for more ambitious climate law

June 14, 2017

EU governments should answer MEPs’ call for a more robust climate law, green group Transport & Environment (T&E) has said despite the European Parliament’s vote today to weaken the environment committee's ambitious proposal for the Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR). The parliament backed a more ambitious starting point than the European Commission’s proposal, capped the so-called banking flexibility but kept the loophole on forestry credits so member states can avoid some emissions reductions.

The parliament’s plenary voted for countries to reduce their emissions based on a more realistic starting point – starting at 2018 emission levels, or the 2020 national climate targets, whichever is lower. The amount of forestry credits – which are not credible due to the very weak accounting rules being discussed in ongoing LULUCF negotiations [1] – that could be used to offset emissions in the ESR sector would be limited to 280Mt CO2e, as opposed to the environment committee’s proposed limit of 190Mt but in line with the Commission’s. While the current proposal is even further away from meeting the aims of the Paris agreement, T&E said it is more ambitious than the text proposed by the Commission.

Cristina Mestre, climate officer at T&E, said: “This is Europe’s most important climate law. Parliament’s position is the bare minimum that needs to be done to meet the Paris climate goals. EU governments were quick to rally to the Paris agreement, now it’s time for them to put their money where their mouth is and accept a robust 2030 climate deal.”

Under the parliament’s proposal, the emission savings would be 529Mt CO2e, T&E’s analysis shows. This is an improvement of 452Mt on the Commission’s proposal which, with member states making full use of all the flexibilities, would save only 77Mt in emissions by 2030.

Cristina Mestre concluded: “Parliament did well to close some of the loopholes the Commission proposed, but then introduced some of its own ‘flexibilities’. There must not be any further weakening of the law. After all, the 2030 targets are not just about carbon pollution but also about better insulated houses, lower oil imports, cleaner air and creating the jobs associated with a shift to a low-carbon economy.”

The parliament also voted to limit the so-called ‘banking’ flexibility, which will prevent member states from building up large quantities of unused allocations and use them at the end of the period when targets are stricter. On the other hand, the parliament introduced a 90MT loophole: the so-called Early Action Reserve, which rewards some member states for making emissions savings under easy targets before 2020.

Covering about 60% of the Europe’s total greenhouse gas emissions, the proposed Effort Sharing Regulation sets binding national emission reduction targets for the 2021-2030 period for sectors not covered in the emissions trading system, namely: transport, buildings, agriculture and waste.


Note to editors:

[1] Fern, One step forward, two steps back for EU on climate and forests (2017)

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