Tuesday

22nd Jan 2019

Parliament negotiators sign off on climate deal

  • The climate bills must still be approved by the full sitting of the parliament later this week (Photo: European Parliament)

European Parliament negotiators have signed off on the climate package deal backed by European Union premiers and presidents last week, setting up the bills that make up the package to be approved when the full sitting of the house gathers to consider them on Wednesday (17 December).

MEPs and the French EU presidency reached the informal agreement on Saturday morning over the last details of the climate change package.

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The EU's 'Triple-20' bundle of laws aimed at arresting catastrophic climate change, aims to decrease greenhouse gas emissions, improve energy efficiency and increase the use of renewable energy all by 20 percent by 2020.

However, the fine print of the deal will see the vast majority of the emissions reductions made in the developing world instead of Europe and emissions permits given away for free to many industries, a move that critics say will deliver windfall profits to manufacturers but little in the way of CO2 reductions.

Over the course of three consecutive meetings, delegations from the parliament, led by the three MEPs who shepherded the legislation through the chamber, and representatives of the French EU presidency finalised the informal negotiations on a directive revising the current EU emission trading system (ETS) - the heart of the climate package.

They also haggled over a decision setting ceilings for national emissions in sectors not covered by the ETS and considered a directive that would pave the way for the development of carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS), an experimental technology that could scrub emissions from polluters such as coal-fired power plants and steel mills and then store the CO2 underground or under the sea bed.

The agreement reached on Saturday calls for 300 million allowances (emissions permits in the ETS) to be awarded to fund large scale CCS projects in the EU. Monies from the sale of such permits should cover the construction costs of nine or ten such projects.

Member states had agreed on Friday to set aside 200 million allowances for CCS.

Irish centre-right MEP Avril Doyle, one of the lead negotiators, said the outcome was a "very good result and a balanced outcome between preserving the environmental integrity of the proposal and ensuring a level playing field for European industry."

Finnish Green MEP Satu Hassi, another of the parliament's negotiators, had mixed feelings about the compromise: "It is a historical achievement to have emissions reductions targets for EU member states with also binding linear pathway and binding yearly limits," she said.

"However, I cannot feel completely happy, because the deal allows outsourcing of over half of EU emissions reductions to other countries."

Some MEPs on Friday had warned they would put up a fight over the dilution of the climate package, but with the major political groupings, the Socialists and the centre-right European People's Party solidly behind the finalised package, the agreement is all but a done deal.

The compromises must still be put to a vote of the full sitting of the parliament, due to take place on Wednesday (17 December) in Strasbourg and then formally endorsed by the all EU member states.

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