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  • Environment MEPs strengthen EU’s key climate law

    MEPs today voted to increase the ambition of the EU’s most powerful climate law, the proposed Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR). While the ESR still fails to meet the aims of the Paris agreement, green group Transport & Environment (T&E) welcomed the European Parliament environment committee’s backing for a more ambitious starting point than the European Commission’s proposal and for closing some loopholes to ensure member states actually reduce their emissions.

    The environment committee 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 that could be used to offset emissions in the ESR sector would be limited to 190Mt CO2e, as opposed to the Commission’s proposed limit of 280Mt.

    Cristina Mestre, climate officer at T&E, said: “The report adopted today is a step in the right direction as it greatly improves the Commission proposal and governments will need to take real measures to reduce emissions in the sectors covered, including transport. Cleaner air, greater innovation, lower energy bills and more livable cities are among the benefits that will flow from this.”

    As the European Commission’s proposal stands, and with member states making full use of all the flexibilities, the emission savings by 2030 would be 77Mt CO2e. But under the environment committee’s adopted report, the emission savings would be 639Mt, T&E’s analysis finds – an improvement of 562Mt on the Commission’s proposal.

    Cristina Mestre, climate officer at T&E, concluded: “The Effort Sharing Regulation, if designed properly, can be a great driver for decarbonising the economy and delivering on the Paris agreement. But the plenary of the European Parliament must remain strong and support this position in the discussions to come.”

    T&E particularly welcomed the limitation on the ‘banking’ flexibility: based on the proposal, member states can save and carry over their unused emission allocations over the commitment period, and use these credits at the end of the period when targets are stricter. The environment committee called for this flexibility to be limited, so that member states will have to meet their annual greenhouse gas reduction targets using emission reduction measures rather than “free” credits.

    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.