Sunday

17th Feb 2019

Germany and France defend emissions trading deal

  • German state secretary Flasbarth (l) and his French counterpart Poirson defended the deal on a reformed emissions trading system (Photo: © BMUB/Sascha Hilgers)

Germany and France voiced their satisfaction over the reform of the EU's emissions trading system on Monday (13 November), although Germany's outgoing state secretary for environment Jochen Flasbarth said he did not expect the system to incentivise heavy emitters to move to cleaner forms of energy.

"We will see [an] increase in prices, it will be more robust," said Flasbarth at a panel discussion at the Bonn climate conference.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"On one thing I'm quite sure. We will not see prices high enough for a fuel switch. It will not be enough to switch from lignite or hard coal to gas, or even renewables," he said.

Flasbarth's comments are remarkable, because a major goal of the emissions trading system (ETS) is to push companies to move to more efficient energy use or to switch to cleaner alternatives.

The ETS requires several thousands of heavy emitters to hand in carbon credits for every CO2 tonne emitted, but it has been plagued with low prices.

To remedy that, the EU has embarked on a reform of the system, to come into force in 2021.

Last Thursday, negotiators from the Council of the EU – representing national governments – and the European Parliament agreed on a deal of how that reform should look.

Flasbarth defended the reform against another panellist in Bonn, Neil Makaroff, EU Policy Adviser at the environmental Reseau Action Climat (Climate Action Network) France.

Makaroff said the deal was "not a good reform" because it still included "a lot of loopholes and flexibilities".

Most significantly, Makaroff criticised that the reformed ETS would allow "some" funding of projects related to coal power.

The environmentalist was referring to the new Modernisation Fund, of which at most 5.2 percent of funding will be available to projects promoting district heating from coal-fired power plants in Bulgaria and Romania.

While Makaroff was talking, Flasbarth mimicked a face of disapproval and held his thumb and index finger very close to each other, as to indicate that the share was minor.

"Don't make the ETS reform [look] worse than it is," the German later said.

"It sounds like that there is a big loophole for coal. It is not. It is for the poorest countries in Europe, ... Bulgaria and Romania, and it's limited to a very, very small slice. It's not even Poland."

His French counterpart Brune Poirson also defended the ETS reform.

She began by applauding the role of civil society in the public debate over what governments should do to limit climate change.

"I really feel that you have a special responsibility as well, which is one of pushing us of being always more and more ambitious," said Poirson.

"We need you to keep us accountable and really make sure that we do our work well. We also need you because sometimes when we try to be ambitious in our own government, we need advocates outside our government to help us push our agenda internally."

But following the critical remarks by Makaroff and another NGO representative, Poirson said that to be ambitious, one also needs to be realistic.

"I'm really pleased you are pushing us, and please keep doing that, because we need you to push us so that we never fall asleep. So thank you, but I'm also saying; by wanting always more, sometimes you get less."

Both Poirson and Flasbarth said they wanted their countries to phase out coal as an energy source.

Flasbarth, who will not join the new coalition government, said that a date for a coal phase-out was "one of the hot potatoes" during the coalition talks.

Emissions trading deal reached after 'isolating' Poland

EU negotiators reached a deal on the ETS after breaking a deadlock on the eligibility criteria for a modernisation fund. Only Romania and Bulgaria will be allowed to use it to finance projects related to coal.

Analysis

EU transport sector has a CO2 problem

Although car manufacturers are reaching their CO2 targets for their fleets, car usage has gone up in Germany, while the gap between lab results and actual fuel consumption has increased.

Macron seeks far-reaching EU overhaul

From the eurozone to defence and education, the French president presented plans to reform the EU which he said other leaders have "no choice" but to follow.

News in Brief

  1. Spain's Sanchez calls snap election on 28 April
  2. 15,000 Belgian school kids march against climate change
  3. May suffers fresh Brexit defeat in parliament
  4. Warning for British banks over Brexit staff relocation
  5. Former Italian PM wants Merkel for top EU post
  6. Antisemitic incidents up 10% in Germany
  7. Italy's asylum rejection rate at record high
  8. Hungary will not claim EU funds for fraudulent project

Stakeholder

COP24 Nordic Pavilion: sharing climate solutions with the world

The Nordic Pavilion at COP24 is dedicated to dialogue – TalaNordic – about key themes regarding the transition to a low-carbon society, such as energy, transport, urban futures, the circular economy and green financing.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  2. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  4. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  7. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”

Latest News

  1. Sluggish procedure against Hungary back on table
  2. Could Finnish presidency fix labour-chain abuse?
  3. Brexit and trip to Egypt for Arab League This WEEK
  4. Belgian spy scandal puts EU and Nato at risk
  5. EU Parliament demands Saudi lobby transparency
  6. Saudi Arabia, but not Russia, on EU 'dirty money' list
  7. EU agrees draft copyright reform, riling tech giants
  8. Rutte warns EU to embrace 'Realpolitik' foreign policy

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  8. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  9. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  11. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  12. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us