Chapter 3.png
  • Ministers’ watering down of climate law must be resisted if EU to meet Paris commitments

    EU environment ministers today decided to weaken Europe’s proposed new climate law, the Effort Sharing Regulation, and instead called for loopholes and flexibilities that would result in a net increase of carbon emissions. Sustainable transport group Transport & Environment (T&E) said it’s now up to MEPs and the European Commission to resist national governments’ watering down of the draft in order to prevent a net emissions increase of 38 megatonnes of CO2 (Mt CO2e) compared to the EU’s 2005 emissions. [1]

    While the ministers want the same loopholes as proposed by the European Commission, they have included one more worth up to 115Mt CO2e: a so-called safety reserve, which rewards some member states for making emissions savings under easy targets before 2020. Furthermore, they want an unlimited ‘banking’ flexibility, meaning member states can build up large quantities of unused allocations and use them at the end of the period when targets are stricter.

    Carlos Calvo Ambel, analysis and climate manager at T&E, said: “What environment ministers agreed on today falls way short of the commitments of the Paris agreement. This regulation goes beyond climate. Today EU governments missed an opportunity to promote cleaner air, greater innovation, lower energy bills and more livable cities.”

    The governments’ position is far from that of the European Parliament, which in July improved the Commission’s proposal by more than 400Mt CO2e. Ministers backed using a misleading baseline, abusing forestry credits and exploiting the emission trading system’s huge surplus, as included in the Commission proposal. However, they want the accounting rules for forestry credits – known as LULUCF – to be weakened even further.

    Carlos Calvo Ambel concluded: “Governments and MEPs now find themselves very far apart from each other on this climate law, which means we should expect tough negotiations. The Parliament’s rapporteur Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy should be supported in his strong defence of MEPs’ position, otherwise the EU has no chance of meeting any of its greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals.”

    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: road transport, buildings, agriculture and waste.

    Note to editors:

    [1] T&E has calculated the impact on each member state of loopholes in the Effort Sharing Regulation, based on a safety reserve of 100 Mt CO2e – as initially proposed by the EU Presidency: