EU lawmakers soon to vote half the bloc’s flagship climate package

epa09148925 European Parliament's Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) chair Pascal Canfin gives a press conference following a decision over the Climate Law in Brussels, Belgium, 21 April 2021. Negotiators of the European Parliament and EU Member States reached a breakthrough on the so-called Climate Law, which is a main part of the European Green Deal, Europe?s plan to become climate neutral by 2050 EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET / POOL [EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET / POOL]

The European Parliament’s environment committee (ENVI) will vote on Monday and Tuesday (16-17 May) on half the texts in the European Commission’s flagship Fit for 55 package aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030. EURACTIV France reports.

Particularly eagerly awaited is the proposal reforming the EU carbon market as it is “the flagship of European climate regulation”, ENVI Committee Chair Pascal Canfin, a member of the centrist Renew Europe group, stressed at a press briefing on Thursday (12 May).

“We’re going to toughen up the game for the industry,” Canfin warned.

The EU emissions trading scheme, in place since 2005, allows a number of industrial companies to purchase CO2 allowances on the market in case they exceed the permitted emission quotas. After prices for these allowances remained low for many years, they reached an all-time peak of €100 per tonne in February.

On including new sectors in the carbon market, a large majority of MEPs in the ENVI Committee are expected to back including the maritime sector but will likely vote in favour of banning the free allowances currently given to the aviation sector from 2025 onwards. This should apply to domestic EU flights and to those from the EU to the rest of the world.

MEPs will also vote on a proposal to gradually implement the carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM) between 2025 and 2030 and thus start implementation earlier than the 2026 start date proposed by the European Commission.

A “reasonable majority” of ENVI MEPs are thus expected to push for a “strengthened CBAM”, accelerating its implementation and widening its scope to “some additional sectors,” a hopeful Canfin added.

MEPs are also expected to vote in favour of including transport and buildings used by companies in the carbon market without, at least for now, including private individuals.

“Everything ‘commercial’ could start in 2025, so a year earlier than the European Commission’s proposal, but everything private would be taken out,” Canfin said.

“The Commission will analyse in 2026 whether [the inclusion of private transport and buildings] is still relevant and, depending on this, it will make a legislative proposal,” he explained, adding that, in this case, private individuals would only be bound by the EU ETS from 2029.

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Good timing

The ENVI committee vote coincides with the European Commission expected to issue its  “REPowerEU” communication on 18 May.

The Commission’s plan, drafted on 8 March, after the war in Ukraine started, should make it possible to reduce Russian gas consumption by two-thirds by the end of the year and completely phase it out “well before 2030”.

Increasing the share of renewables in the bloc’s energy mix and diversifying gas supplies are among the plan’s two main pillars eagerly awaited by MEPs.

Canfin predicted that the Commission’s communication “will accelerate certain dimensions of the Green Deal”, particularly as a proposal to increase the total share of renewables to at least 45% by 2030 – compared to the current 40% target – is expected.

“Next week I think there will be a majority in the Parliament to move very quickly in this direction,” stressed Canfin. According to him, the energy efficiency targets could also be raised by the European Commission next week.

LEAK: EU Commission considering higher renewable energy target for 2030

The European Commission is looking to increase the EU’s renewable energy target for 2030 as part of plans due next week, which also include faster permitting rules for new projects and a solar strategy making rooftop solar mandatory for all new buildings, according to leaked proposals seen by EURACTIV.

Between the ambitions set in the Fit for 55 package, which could be raised depending on how MEPs vote, and the Commission’s new REPowerEU communication, “we have the possibility of accelerating the Green Deal quite significantly in the next four weeks”, Canfin said.

“This acceleration agenda, which is at the same time a climate agenda, a geopolitical sovereignty agenda, a strategic autonomy agenda on the commercial and industrial level, is the heart of what France is defending, the heart of the transformation of the European software that we have been working on for two years in the European Parliament and for five years in the Elysée Palace.”

[Edited by Frédéric Simon/Zoran Radosavljevic]

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