Progress towards a global deal to curb aviation emissions and proposals to delay the release of greenhouse gas allowances in the Emissions Trading System (ETS) dominated a special meeting of the Environment Committee on Monday.
Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard relayed a new Commission proposal to "stop the clock" on enforcing international aspects of aviation in EU emissions trading. The proposed suspension of obligations was to recognise recent progress at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and look towards a global deal to be reached by autumn 2013.
Some MEPs questioned whether the level of progress in ICAO merited a suspension of the rules. In the debate and in a press statement, Environment Committee Chair Matthias Groote (S&D, DE) and Peter Liese (EPP, DE), rapporteur for the legislation adopted in 2008, cautiously welcomed the progress.
"I welcome the positive signal from ICAO with cautious optimism. Thanks to the EU taking the first step, the world is now moving towards a global deal to tackle growing aviation emissions. While the EU may conditionally suspend some requirements in our legislation, the clock will be ticking to agree a global deal within the next year", said Matthias Groote.
"I welcome the substantial progress under ICAO that shows that it was very important that the European Union took a firm stand. Now it is clear that we need to be flexible. But we have to look at the Commission proposal very carefully. On the one hand we shouldn't be too generous. On the other hand we should avoid distortion of competition as much as possible", said Peter Liese (EPP, DE).
Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said the Commission was proposing to delay the availability of allowances (known as "backloading") in response to Parliament's call to tackle surplus credits. On Wednesday, the Commission will publish a report on the carbon market and a proposal following one of three possible action 'scenarios' they had previously mooted.
MEPs gave a mixed response on backloading, with some concerned about market intervention and others fearing that the proposals would not go far enough to boost the weak carbon price. External experts also gave their input.
"Backloading the release of allowances will only buy time. We need to take account of all the concerns and doubts that have been raised", said Matthias Groote (S&D, DE), who is rapporteur for the proposal. Looking at the wider picture in his concluding remarks, he said, "The EU's ETS is strongest tool in the world of its kind and we should be proud of it".
In the Chair: Matthias Groote (S&D, DE)
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