Ongoing work on EU ETS reform got off to a slow start to 2016 as both MEPs and member state officials took only tentative steps this week towards addressing the Commission’s proposal.
Senior MEPs from both the environment and industry committee met with lobbyists this week to gauge reaction to the proposal and draw up their initial views, but their continued wrestling over which body is in charge of the file risks delaying the passage of the bill into 2017.
Environment committee MEPs this week rejected an offer by their industry committee counterparts to share control of a small part of the file, gambling that their parliament chiefs will stick with past moves to give it sole competence.
The Conference of Committee Chairs, the chairs of the parliamentary committees, will meet next Tuesday.
Both committees sat this week and heard from ministers from the Netherlands, which holds the rotating EU presidency, on the country’s plans for the coming six months.
Italian MEP Eleonora Evi of the Eurosceptic EFDD group questioned whether the Netherlands would be prepared to revisit the EU’s climate goals, which include an overall 2030 goal of an at least 40% GHG cut under 1990 levels in 2030.
“The linear reduction factor is insufficient to meet our goals for reducing emissions after 2030, so what will the presidency do to guarantee that we can hike up our level of ambition?” she asked, according to a summary of the meeting compiled by monitoring service One Policy Place.
Sharon Dijksma, the Dutch minister for infrastructure and the environment, replied: “As long as we have no new position we will stick to the old one. At the second hand we have to discuss what we can do towards the new stocktake of 2018, obviously that will be on the agenda.”
The Paris Agreement on climate change struck in December set out a voluntary ‘stocktake’ of how national emission pledges are contributing to a long-term global target in 2018 and a voluntary revisiting of pledges in 2020.
Next week’s parliamentary plenary in Strasbourg will also include a debate on the outcome of the December UN climate summit with COP21 president/France’s foreign minister Laurent Fabius on Wednesday.
EU MEMBER STATES
Meanwhile, national envoys addressed the EU ETS reform proposal on Wednesday as part of a three-day meeting of the Working Party on the Environment, but they gave few signs they were ready to tackle the bill in earnest, sources told Carbon Pulse.
“The Presidency is pretty organised in its scheduling and it looks like we won’t be addressing this in detail until the second quarter,” said one government source who attended the meeting.
There are two more environment working parties scheduled for February, but the next action is more likely to come at a Mar. 4 Environment Council meeting, where all 28 EU environment ministers are to discuss the Paris outcome.
This would be the opportunity for ministers to raise whether the EU should review its 2030 goals as a result of the deal.
Swedish lawmakers are likely to lead the line on an upwards review after suggesting the EU should consider tightening its climate policies last week.
Separately, Europe’s climate commissioner Miguel Arias Canete took a two-day visit to Warsaw this week to meet with ministers from the relatively new Polish government, which came to power pledging to take an even tougher stance against EU climate policies than the previous administration.
The two delegations spoke on various energy and climate topics, including the Commission’s upcoming non-ETS proposal, which is due before summer.