Parliament lead Committee throws lifeline to ailing EU carbon market

Press release - February 19, 2013
Brussels, 19 February 2013 – European environmental NGOs today welcomed the European Parliament Environment Committee’s support for the proposal to temporarily curb the oversupply of emission allowances in the EU emissions trading scheme (ETS). This ‘backloading’ proposal will go some way to mitigate the severe problems faced by the EU’s carbon market, which has so far failed to dissuade polluters due to the hopelessly low cost of allowances.


EU climate policy officer for WWF, Sam Van den plas, said: “Today the ailing EU carbon market was given emergency treatment, but full recovery will require proper surgery. Backloading of emission allowances is only a temporary first step. Structural reforms of the carbon market need to make a reality of the EU’s 30 percent domestic carbon emission reduction commitments.”

EU climate policy director for Greenpeace, Joris den Blanken, said: “Despite the vote, there’s little reason to celebrate today. The EU’s carbon market was saved from complete redundancy, but there’s a long way ahead to ensure it becomes a meaningful tool for greening Europe’s economy. The backloading proposal might slow the slide in the carbon price, but permanent cancellation of allowances and strong 2030 targets are essential if it is to achieve its aims.”

In today’s vote the centre right European People’s Party (EPP) refused to support a set of compromise amendments which aimed to get cross-party support for backloading. The EPP move put at risk the future of the EU carbon market; a disappointing reversal of the positive role the group played in the 2008 revision of the ETS. The majority for the backloading proposal was formed only thanks to a group of dissenting EPP parliamentarians who recognised that a functioning ETS is an opportunity for European industry, not a threat.

Julia Michalak, CAN Europe climate policy officer, said: “A few years ago, the EPP took the lead in putting in place a harmonised and stronger EU carbon market. Today, in contrast, we have witnessed a party opposing to innovation and efficient, future-oriented industries, with no vision of future EU climate and energy policies.”

CAN Europe, Greenpeace and WWF now call on EU governments, and in particular Germany, to swiftly support the ETS backloading proposal so negotiations between Parliament and the Irish presidency can begin. Done right, a European emissions trading system can stimulate innovation, create good jobs and move us off increasingly costly fossil fuels.

For more information:

Joris den Blanken – Greenpeace EU climate policy director: +32 476 96 1375 (mobile),

Sam Van den plas – Climate Policy Officer, WWF European Policy Office, +32 485 95 22 01 (mobile),

Julia Michalak - Climate policy officer Climate Action Network Europe, + 32 495 77 45 68 (mobile),

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