“Playing around with the emissions trading scheme” would only have a “very small” impact on the current energy price crunch, EU climate chief Frans Timmermans said on Wednesday (6 October) as he walked into a meeting of EU environment ministers in Luxembourg.
The hike in energy prices is only marginally caused by the rise in CO2 prices on the carbon market, Timmermans said, adding that he did not expect this to derail discussions on the revision of the EU emissions trading scheme that EU environment ministers will have later today.
“We need to be clear about one thing: this is the market, because the demand from us coming out of the COVID crisis is higher than in the last 25 years,” the Dutchman insisted.
Higher prices are also caused by “maintenance” work on gas pipelines that was delayed due to the COVID crisis when energy demand was low, he added, saying the response at EU level is to speed up the transition away from volatile fossil fuels.
Environment ministers are meeting in Luxembourg today (6 October) to finalise their position on the COP26 climate conference taking place in November and to discuss the Commission’s recently tabled ‘Fit for 55’ package of energy and climate legislation.
But the energy price spike that has hit Europe is set to overshadow the debate.
“Next week, the Commission will present our plans of how we’re going to address this issue” of rising energy costs, Timmermans said. Those will be discussed by EU leaders at a summit in Brussels on 21-22 October.
The details are as yet unknown but it is likely to include a range of measures EU countries have already taken to combat the impacts of rising energy costs, such as social schemes for low-income households and temporary tax breaks on electricity prices.
It will have two main purposes, an EU diplomate source told EURACTIV – an analysis of what went wrong and a series of solutions member states can use to alleviate the pressure on households and businesses impacted by rising energy costs.
Speaking yesterday in Estonia, EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said discussions at the summit will also include the idea of setting up an EU strategic gas reserve and the decoupling of electricity prices from gas prices.
[Edited by Frédéric Simon]