New ETS plan puts burden on European taxpayers instead of polluting industry

Press release - June 19, 2013
Brussels – A new plan to patch up Europe’s ailing carbon market endorsed by the European Parliament’s environment committee today will fall short of restoring an effective system to encourage clean investments and lower carbon emissions, warned Greenpeace.


The proposal is designed to temporarily withhold carbon allowances from the EU’s Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) in order to compensate for their oversupply – a process known as ‘backloading’. Because of the oversupply, the price of carbon allowances hit its lowest ever levels [1] and the ETS has not fulfilled its purpose of encouraging the use of more efficient and clean technologies. A first backloading proposal was narrowly rejected in a vote in the European Parliament in April and sent back to the committee for review.

The new proposal the committee endorsed today includes the early reintroduction of some of the allowances temporarily taken out of the market (by 2016 or 2017 instead of 2019, as originally planned), which would mean a quicker slide back to today’s oversupplied market. It would also change the way allowances are brought back into the market, diverting money collected from the sale of allowances to energy-intensive industry sectors (such as steel and cement) instead of European government budgets.

Greenpeace EU climate policy director Joris den Blanken said: “There has been so much backtracking on this plan for a temporary fix of the EU carbon market that it is now only a shadow of what it should have been. The best it will do is give some very short-term relief and act as a fundraiser for polluting industries with no obligation for deeper carbon cuts. Instead of polluters, it is taxpayers that will be picking up the carbon bill.”

The proposal will now go to the full European Parliament for a vote on 2 July.

Greenpeace calls on the European Commission to strengthen the ETS by cancelling 2.2 billion carbon allowances before 2020. The Commission should also propose a domestic 2030 climate target for the EU of 55 per cent, as part of a package of targets, including a 2030 renewables and energy savings target. As long as EU decision-makers do not put in place an effective scheme, national governments must fill the gap with national coal and carbon taxation schemes, said Greenpeace.

[1] After the last backloading proposal failed to get majority support in the European Parliament on 16 April, the price of a carbon allowance (to emit 1 tonne of carbon dioxide) hit a new record low of €2.63.

Joris den Blanken - Greenpeace EU climate policy director: +32 (0) 476 961 375,
Mark Breddy - Greenpeace communications: +32 (0)496 156229,

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Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment and to promote peace. Greenpeace does not accept donations from governments, the EU, businesses or political parties.