Today the European Parliament regrettably voted to reject a proposal to temporarily revive the EU's flagging carbon market, the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). With carbon prices already at all-time lows, the vote will further undermine the security of investments into low-carbon technologies.
"After broad agreement that backloading alone would not solve the fundamental problems faced by the ETS, EU lawmakers need to get rid of the surplus toxic tonnes hanging like a dark shadow over the carbon market," said Sam Van den plas of WWF. "In addition, the EU should stop handing out free allowances to a large majority of EU manufacturing industries since current carbon prices do not justify such gifts."
NGOs were dismayed that elected lawmakers caved into a small but intense business lobby and became unwilling to support a short-term measure designed to help put the right price on pollution. Without EU-wide measures, Europe faces a lost decade of climate inaction. Member states must therefore swiftly implement national policies to support the ailing carbon market and EU climate ambition.
"It's outrageous that Parliament seems to value polluting industry more than Europe's green future," said Julia Michalak of CAN Europe. "Since Parliament has made it clear that they don't support backloading, we now urge all branches of EU government to propose alternative solutions to support Europe's transformation into a low-carbon economy."
But EU ETS reform is still on the table. The backloading proposal has been referred back to the Parliament's Environment Committee, awaiting the outcome of the Commission's reflections. We call on all EU policy-makers, including the Parliament, to come up with robust proposals to increase EU climate action.
Editor's notes: Our campaign
Ahead of the plenary vote, last week NGOs staged a live carbon "auction" in front of the European Parliament in Brussels with outlandish bidders and a giant black balloon representing one tonne of CO2 emissions.
For more information on the ETS and our position on reforming the system to make it work, see our briefing 'EU ETS at a crossroads - NGO Briefing - January 2013'.
CAN Europe and WWF staged a live carbon auction in front of the European Parliament with outlandish bidders and a giant black balloon representing one tonne of CO2 emissions. An auctioneer started the bidding at 30€/tonne; but did industry bid for the climate or for cheap pollution?
The "auction" came ahead of a European Parliament plenary vote on 16 April on the "backloading" proposal for the EU emissions trading scheme (ETS). CAN Europe and WWF support the backloading proposal as a necessary first step toward deep reform of the EU ETS.
[Brussels, 27 March 2013] - CAN Europe welcomes the release of the European Commission's 2030 Green Paper today  as an effort to move forward discussions on Europe's post-2020 climate and energy policy framework. The content of the paper, however, is deeply disappointing, expressing an approach inadequate to address the growing urgency of climate change, with targets reflecting barely more than a business-as-usual scenario.
"By neglecting the seriousness of the climate crisis, the Commission does not recognise the reality of the planet we are living on or the problems ordinary people are facing," said Wendel Trio, Director of CAN Europe. "The cost to our economy from inaction on climate change will be enormous. By setting ambitious and binding targets for renewable energy and energy savings, in addition to a greenhouse gas emission reduction target that is in line with avoiding dangerous climate change, we could begin to tackle the problem."
The Green Paper focuses mainly on issues related to the economic crisis, competitiveness and energy security, barely even acknowledging climate change. At the same time, reports from the World Economic Forum, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund are telling world leaders that the economic crisis cannot be solved without tackling the climate crisis.
"Study after study shows that reducing our carbon footprint would IMPROVE the competitiveness of European industry while providing greater energy security and millions of new jobs," Trio continued. "The level of ambition needed to make the transition to a more sustainable energy system is totally missing from the Green Paper."
[Brussels, February 27] – A new report out today shows that the European Union could benefit from €200 billion net savings per year providing it gets on track to meeting its stated 20% by 2020 energy savings target .
The report written by Ecofys and commissioned by Friends of the Earth Europe and Climate Action Network Europe also looks to 2030 and finds that net savings in the order of €250 billion per year could be achieved if the EU reduces its energy use by roughly 35% below 2005 levels by 2030.
These findings should serve as a wake-up call. The EU's non-binding 20% by 2020 energy savings target is not on track to being met. And so far there is insufficient support from the European Commission and national governments for a 2030 target for energy savings. This means that despite the advantages, the required energy savings risk not being fully achieved.
Joint statement by CAN Europe, Greenpeace and WWF
Brussels, 19 February 2013 – European environmental NGOs today welcomed the European Parliament Environment Committee’s support for the proposal to temporarily curb the oversupply of emission allowances in the EU emissions trading scheme (ETS). This ‘backloading’ proposal will go some way to mitigate the severe problems faced by the EU’s carbon market, which has so far failed to dissuade polluters due to the hopelessly low cost of allowances.
[8 December 2012 - COP18, DOHA] At the Doha climate talks, governments failed to do anything meaningful to avert the planet's slide towards catastrophic climate change. Countries used the economic crisis as a reason to avoid paying for climate finance, while billions of dollars in damages rack up from monster storms.
Wendel Trio, Director of CAN Europe said:
"Rather than contribute to closing the gap between what countries are willing to do and what is needed in terms of climate action, Doha has increased it. By sticking with only the lowest end of their promises, Parties like the European Union are moving this gap in the wrong direction. The EU missed its chance to play a leadership role in Doha, which it could have done by increasing its emission reduction target to 30%, in line with policies it already has in place. We are dismayed that the EU accepted weakening "hot air" rules by allowing the use of emission surpluses from the past."