The EU should revisit and consider tightening its energy and climate policies, including drastically reforming the ETS, to show it is serious about tackling climate change, according to senior Swedish lawmakers including environment minister Asa Romson.
“Sweden and the EU has shown leadership ahead of the Paris meeting, but now all see what further can be done,”said Romson, co-writing an opinion piece this week for Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter with energy minister Ibrahim Baylan and MEPs Jytte Guteland and Peter Eriksson, senior negotiators on ETS reform for their political groupings in the EU Parliament’s environment and industry committees respectively.
“If we are to achieve the goal of limiting global warming to far below 2 degrees Celsius and keep 1.5C within reach we need a new discussion at European level on tightening climate and energy policy,” they said.
Few lawmakers have previously raised the issue of deepening the EU target beyond the “at least” 40% reduction agreed by the bloc’s leaders in 2014, with many observers expecting little change to the target after a hard-fought political deal was struck on that number. Only France has raised the prospect for a more ambitious target up to now.
The article’s authors called the EU ETS the “single most important tool” for cutting emissions in the industry and energy sectors, and that a well-functioning carbon market would be a strong signal to the world.
They said the post-2020 ETS reform bill is a “unique opportunity” to significantly improve the system, including a better model to calculate free EUA allocations more closely to production levels to ensure they only go to those at real risk of carbon leakage.
“In the current situation, there are too many exceptions to the rules, leading too many companies not having to pay for their emissions or that can even make money without undertaking environmental efficiency measures,” they said.
They added that the proposed Modernisation Fund for eastern European nations needs clearer guidelines on supporting renewables and energy efficiency to avoid locking in fossil fuel use.
They also quoted analysis from campaigners Sandbag that showed ETS emissions are already on course to be 38% below 2005 levels by 2021.
“This means that the EU needs to tighten its climate and energy action if there is to be to the adequate pressure for conversion. The too-low price situation in the EU ETS is a clear signal that the EU can do more.”
- After Paris, Europe’s climate commissioner Miguel Arias Canete ruled out revisiting the EU 2030 GHG target until the next Commission takes office in late 2019.
- The Paris Agreement features a voluntary ‘stocktake’ of how national pledges are contributing to a long-term target in 2018 and a voluntary revisiting of pledges in 2020. The first binding stocktake is in 2023, with a binding revisiting of pledges in 2025.
- Analysts have suggested that the national pledges would only limit global temperatures to 2.7C above pre-industrial levels, well short of the binding Paris Agreement goal of “well below 2C”.
- An Environment Council meeting of all EU environment ministers planned for Mar. 4 will include following up on Paris and is likely to feature discussions over whether the EU should review its 2030 goal.
- Any deepening of the overall EU pledge would almost certainly mean a tighter cap for the ETS, which regulates around half of the bloc’s GHG output.
- Senior MEP Ian Duncan has already said the Paris Agreement’s reference to a 1.5C goal may force EU lawmakers to ratchet up the ETS reform proposal and would at least require some consideration by lawmakers.
By Ben Garside – firstname.lastname@example.org